REVIEW: Rachel Sermanni – Under Mountains


Artist: Rachel Sermanni
Album: Under Mountains
Release Date: Aug 20,  2013

Usually, whenever the word “folk” appears, I think of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Although I DO love “Little Lion Man” and “Ho Hey”, folk music, for the most part, fails to grab my attention. Not that I’m trying to discriminate against the folk genre, but songs tend to sound repetitive after a while. However, after a couple accidental clicks on YouTube, I landed upon a video of Scottish folk artist Rachel Sermanni performing live versions of her songs, “Song for a Fox” and “Little Prayer”. It was hauntingly beautiful and the purity in her voice was just absolutely captivating. She reminded me of a Scottish version of Coeur de Pirate and then, I decided, “Why not give her album a chance?”

This record, Under Mountains, opens up with a track entitled Breathe Easy, which is one of my personal favourites. This song’s first few seconds feature a series of bass notes. Sermanni’s voice then makes its appearance and immediately, listeners are drawn into the soft and relaxing melody. The lyrics paint an image of a pair of lovers swimming in the ocean. The lines “We’ll swim knowing rain can’t touch us” and “And I’ll shelter you from harm/And my love will keep you warm/Until all these fears have gone!” suggest trust and assurance, and surely enough, fans can trust Sermanni in weaving them through the somewhat “rough” upcoming ocean waters of the rest of the record.

“Bones”, compared to the opening track of the album, is darkly galvanic and sort of Halloween-like. The artist’s vocals hit a lower range of notes and this song contains a wider variety of instruments. This one, in my opinion, also sets the mood of the rest of the album. Songs like “The Fog”, “Sea Oh See” and “Black Current” are very similar to Bones. They all consist of very eerie tones that contribute the sombre and mysterious side of this album.

Returning on a brighter note, “Marshmallow Unicorn” is another one of my favourites. It’s a simple love ballad that features a guitar playing in the background. It stands out from the sea of the dark songs and the title itself is quite intriguing. As the first five words, of this song suggest, it’s about saying goodbye to a lover. Sermanni writes about how her ex-lover’s necklace chain must carry her stone in order for her to feel his heart beat against his own. Even though the pair is “rolling a way away” from each other, the writer has this instinct that they will “roll into each other someday.”

Under Mountains finishes off with “To a Fox”. This song describes the progression of love. It starts off dark and somewhat depressing. We find one person trying to chase the other. Nearing the end of “To a Fox”, we see that he/she finally gets the person they were longing for and that they are both happily dancing away in the rain.

Overall, Under Mountains is a beautiful work of art. Even though many songs sound alike, they each tell interesting stories of their own. The poetry contains well written imageries and the different moods of the album showcase Sermanni’s vocal abilities. The songs are soothing, relaxing and something to definitely listen to on a rainy day while sipping a cup of tea or before going to bed.

Review by Karmin Yu

Listen to “Song for a Fox” below!

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