Fanshaw: Dark Eyes
Fanshaw’s ‘Dark Eyes’ is classic inside and out. The Canadian singer-songwriter’s profile graces the beige cover and a simple black and white lyric book lies inside.
This Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, also known as Olivia Fetherstonhaugh, has spent upwards of five years perfectly crafting the nine songs on this debut CD. During this time, she also joined forces with that of her fellow recording artists on Mint Recordings, the Choir Practice, further developing her performance skills.
In fact, for this recording, members of that group, Larissa Lloyva, Shane Turner and Johnny Pane contribute their diverse talents.
‘Diana’ begins with eerie chromatic passages that escalate to a near- fever pitch, while the title song ‘Dark Eyes’ contrasts with stark, ragged strums.
“You were what I wanted so I burned it down/I wore my worship like a crown,” she sings with her pure voice which capably navigates unexpected chord changes. .
‘Vegas’ is also sparse, but superbly beautiful due to Fetherstonhaugh’s voluminous vocal phrasing. She sometimes sounds like Leslie Feist or Annie Clark from St. Vincent and teeters on the edge of Tori Amos, and her lyrics often contain black humour:
“You said you found a better woman
Oh I don’t see how that makes this over
Life is beautiful, anything could happen
She might die at any moment.”
‘Nobody’ boasts haunting sonar echoes that precede raw strings. ‘Strong Hips’ has a flouncing arrangement, where the guitar chases the voice, and provides a steady drop cloth for illustrative wordplay:
“I’ve got a lot of music in me
Buried in my body
It’s you that makes me come undone
You pull me apart and uncover the song.”
The keys and backing vocals by Larissa Loyva add just the right touch of class.
‘O Sailor’ delves into more concrete matters:
“Won’t you come and kiss me sailor
O I’m homely
I’ve really got nothing on her
But a little colour.”
‘Paperboy’ expounds a more fantastical theme;
“He didn’t look surprised or crinkle his grey eyes
I knew, I knew, he was the boy that I drew.”
‘Rebecca’ with its shimmering, brilliance and roughhouse guitar, is narrated by a kid who rhapsodizes the cruel beauty of an older woman.
“I’m just a clumsy kid
Ran off and told a fib
I’m not a thing like Rebecca.”
Then, the closer ‘Checkerboard’ seems to pull the lush harmonies, poignant lyrics and subtle textures together into a time-tested mosaic:
“Under my ribs there’s a checkerboard
The game of love I will play ‘til I’m old’ is sanctified by stunning minor chords
And expertly placed counter keyboard rhythms.”
‘Dark Eyes’ was five years in the making, but it was worth the wait. With an unbelievable voice which flawlessly expresses longing and happiness within a singular measure, Fanshaw can make the coldest heart flutter.