- 20 Sep 02
Hayes has a wonderful sense of melody - virtually every line she sings is memorable and unusual
It would have been all too easy for Gemma Hayes to become a pop superstar.
The Tipperary-born singer-songwriter has enough in the way of youth, good looks and vocal skills to challenge any of the budding Britneys. But instead – and to her credit – she’s chosen a harder route, slowly finding her way into the kind of music she herself wants to perform.
Her debut album makes for patchy, but often beautiful listening. Hayes has a wonderful sense of melody – virtually every line she sings is memorable and unusual, holding on in the brain long after the record has stopped playing.
There are great components to almost every track – the hook of the repeated sigh on first single ‘Hanging Around’, the gentle mellowness of ‘My God’. Best of all are the tunes where her vocals and melody are allowed to dominate. There are few digital tweaks or oddball guitar flourishes to ‘Ran For Miles’ or ‘Back Of My Hand’, just simple, quality songwriting.
The record’s main weakness is its schizophrenic musical direction. ‘Let A Good Thing Go’ is a great guitar song that seems like it should be on a Frames album, while the wishy-washy title track sounds like Hayes has suddenly morphed into an American country artist. Hayes’ rather bizarre tendency to sing in an American accent doesn’t help matters either.
The roughness of the production values and the occasionally amateurish playing also work to the detriment of the record. Plodding drumbeats, poorly judged arrangements and muddy sound often threaten to overwhelm the simple lustre of the melodies.
That said, there is much here to like and even admire. With Night On My Side, Hayes has begun an interesting musical voyage. When she gets to where she’s going, she may truly be a force to be reckoned with.
An engaging debut.