Tomorrow, Welsh songwriter Ailsa Tully releases Holy Isle, her new four-track EP that maintains her hot streak of insightful, tender and wholly lovable indie-folk releases. She’s been honing her eye and pen since the release of her Feuds EP in 2018, and evidence of her maturation as a songwriter overflows on her recent releases. This culminates in Holy Isle, which touches on amorphous and ungraspable emotions; life in transition, a body out of sync with the world, the soul-searching aftermath of romantic wreckage. Despite the ephemerality of these ideas, Tully has painted it all with such delicate detail, lyrically, vocally, and musically, where she’s expanded her palette with field recordings, woodwinds, strings and extra production expertise, in which she had the help of a close-knit group of friends.
With her version of On Deck, Tully has decided to shine the spotlight on these collaborators, who have helped bring Holy Isle to life. Introducing us all to a wellspring of new British talent, perhaps the most exciting thing about these selections is that all five of the artists seems to be just at the beginning of their musical trajectories – and we’ll certainly be keeping an ear on all of them from this point.
Gillie is my musical other half, collaborator, guitarist/backing vocalist – the list goes on. I am also lucky to be her bassist for her own project. Her most recent EP, Retirement Paradise, was entirely self-recorded and produced which is a huge achievement, especially when it is done as creatively and uniquely as this.
I love the shape of her melodies, they are so strong and catchy while retaining so much individuality. It’s soulful, Welsh, earthy but also soars away into the ether. I’m so excited for what’s to come for her project and can’t wait to bop with my bass at her shows.
Vincenzo Grande – Blossoms In Rain EP
This EP has a special place in my heart. Vince and I spent most of Covid lockdown living together, and hearing him working on these songs became my lockdown soundtrack. There is incredibly vulnerability and care in these songs, while also showing so much resilience and strength. I recorded some cello parts for them which was a huge privilege.
This is a very special body of work, I feel like it is re-defining masculinity and examining constructs that have been placed on men. Such a refreshing topic. These songs are achingly beautiful.
Show Boy – Ishtar Lion EP
Jovis aka Show Boy produced my singles “Greedy” and “Sheets” from the Holy Isle EP. He absolutely brought them to life with enormous amounts of fresh creativity.
He is an incredible songwriter as well an amazing musician. His melodies always go exactly where I want them to – they are everything you crave from a great pop song. My favourite is “Rise Above” – it really pulls at my heart strings, especially the chord movement on the guitar parts. He is a very inspiring presence.
Thallo – “Pressed and Preserved”
Thallo, aka my wonderful friend Elin, is a Welsh language folk/soulful/alt-pop musician who often pops in to record some clarinet for my songs. She released a series of singles this year which are so well crafted. She has created such an interesting sound world with clarinets, trumpets, huge guitar riffs, jazz inflected beats and the most heavenly welsh voice. The melody for “Pressed and Preserved” is a spine tingler. We are both on the line up at Sŵn Festival this year, I can’t wait to see her and her band!
Melquíades – Keep A Seed
My dear friend Carlos released this ambient album just after we finished university together. It is huge in its musical scope and shows his wide range of influences, from cascading rippling guitar pieces to heavy evolving repetitive rhythms, it’s got it all.
I listen to it all the time, especially when I’m driving in the mountains. Carlos and I bonded at uni about our love of Fleet Foxes and our love of mountains, so it always feels right to listen to him when I’m visiting the hills. My favourite track is “Cascades/Filigree (II)”.