An album that is fit for a moment of hushed harmony on rainy afternoons, Pause explores Poppy Ackroyd’s ever growing relationship with her treasured piano as she translates feelings of anxiety, new beginnings and solitude into her most intimate music yet
A pandemic is one thing, a new born first child is another. The stress and chaos of both of these somewhat alien experiences would cause anybody to escape in one way or another. And that’s just what composer and musician Ackroyd did. Her version of escapism involved pouring her creativity into music, experimenting with ways to manipulate sounds within her piano whilst channeling lockdown emotions and stories into her compositions.
Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shortly after the birth of her son, Ackroyd’s fourth album Pause - referring to the welcoming feeling of normality - keeps things as open as possible. Beginner “Seedling” is inspired by spring’s awakening and nature opening it’s sleepy eyes to the world, a double entendre for the world reopening perhaps. Glistening and twinkly keys cascade and grow throughout which creates strong imagery of a small seedling’s growth and presence in nature.
The theme of nature continues into the following tracks, “Suspended” takes on a moodier sound, created through piano strings being plucked from inside the piano, replicating an anxiety ridden birds eye flight of a city locked down and miserable. “Murmurations” however, enhances feelings of hope and tranquility in dark times, as it follows the rhythmic and transfixing dances of starlings. With fascinatingly quick keys, it offers glimmers of inspiration from alt-J’s debut An Awesome Wave.
“Stillness” and “Unravel” are beautifully delicate compositions which act as the album’s lullabies, a subtle reminder of the musician who is probably searching and creating methods to soothe her own newborn baby. “Muted” showcases Poppy Ackroyd’s experimentation by using a damp cloth to add weight to the strings in the lower half of the piano to literally mute the standard rich keys, producing a futuristic yet serene piece of music.
Despite a lack of lyrics and vocals which is often mourned for in parts of this record, Ackroyd’s spellbinding ways around her beloved instrument are magnificent and not to be underestimated.