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Album review: hazeyjane

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Anima Rising
[Tu-Kay Records]

Three years in the making, this is the sophomore album from the Kettering-area musical collective fronted by singer-songwriter Chris Brown. Recorded and produced by Ash Tu-kay, Anima Rising presents ambient folk moodpieces that touch on mythical subjects in highly poetic form.

The title is a Jungian concept, denoting a rising of feminine energy. It’s used by Joni Mitchell on ‘Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow’, which, as a key touchstone artist for hazeyjane, is probably where it came from. ‘Inside Out’, the opener, is a lovely mix of Mitchell’s mid-70s experimentation, and the similarly inclined explorer of inner space, John Martyn. It’s a beautiful, mature song; multiple voices weaving the story, a prominent and hypnotic bassline, and attacks by a string quartet occasionally penetrating the stoned vibes.

The album proceeds in similar fashion, ‘Trade Winds’ being a Floydian meditation on uncertainty [“the cracks between wrong and right may never seal”]. Brown’s rich voice delivering an unmistakable message of fear and regret. The title track brings piano solemnity into the mix, and it’s not unwelcome.

‘Haunting Hands’ delves a little into prog, a lengthy instrumental opening passage before the reverberating guitar and voice of Brown brings it back to earth. ‘Gwendolyn’ brings acoustic guitar to the fore, whilst ‘Alraune’ ruminates on unholy love.

The back end of the album ties everything up nicely. ‘Lost’ is fronted by Corinne Lucy and her luxurious tones; an old folk voice from a forgotten time re-emerging with new tales to tell. Closer ‘Hush, Little Sister’ has a strong emotional pull; it says as much in its spaces as it does through its’ crashing waves of guitar and percussion.

Alongside fellow traveller Kenneth J Nash the hazeyjane troupe bring spiritual, otherworldly vibes to the NN music scene, and we are deeply indebted to them for conjuring such spaces. Anima Rising is a rich and beguiling piece of work: an intoxicating, immersive experience which brings much reward on repeat listening.

Phil Moore

Anima Rising is out now on streaming platforms, and CD direct from the band

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