Traditionally, an EP is usually a welcome stop-gap between albums, providing an artist an opportunity to bridge the gap between their past material and their eventual future challenges. Case in point: the surf rock covers and early psychedelia of The Who’s Ready Steady Who EP released just prior to their second album, A Quick One in late 1966 – which conveyed both a sense of artistic reverence and renaissance. In singer-songwriter Gabi Garbutt’s case, her latest EP, The Creation Of Birds is a polarity-driven affair containing a palate of trademark hummable power pop melodies along with a surprising bedfellow of escapist almost ambient cinematic opuses.
Gabi emerged from the lockdown triumphant with her wholly eclectic second album Cockerel in 2022 and a string of tour dates booked for that year. She supported similarly musically-minded cohorts: The Libertines, Big Country and The Boomtown Rats with her band The Illuminations. After the Static Roots Festival in Oberhausen Germany in July, the local press marked them out as a festival highlight.
After such a buzz of seemingly unstoppable activity, with her Cockerel album in the bag, Gabi was ready to focus on writing and recording a new batch of songs. She sent her music to Beth Jeans Houghton (Du Blonde) and was delighted to be invited to release the EP through their label Daemon T.V.
The EP.’s opener Panic featuring Du Blonde has flickers of The Clash’s riff from All The Young Punks and infectious Only Ones-style backing vocals. Gabi enunciates her words as if her life depended on it like Aretha Franklin singing I Say A Little Prayer. The song seems a matter-of-fact narrative partly describing a transportation crash but is performed with such panache that it takes on a euphoric life of its own and dually functions like an Everly Brothers standard, giving it an almost ‘guilty pleasure’ irony.
In Stun Like A Deadly Flower, she sounds old beyond her years but gives off a scintillating sense of vulnerability. The song has a seesaw effect and is lyrically very bathetic, “Salvage the spirit together with gaffer tape.” The swooping All The Magic sounds different from the previous songs: more polished and deliberately well-produced. It is akin lyrically to the ‘anything goes’ sensuality of a Neil Gaiman story. It has a nostalgic sway, and the proggy chiming guitar sound gradually puts things up a gear with a distinct shift in key.
Towards the EP’s conclusion, there is a harmonious sense of musical disparity. Unquiet Mind begins in an epic way with Construction Time Again’s metallic resounding Celtic horns reminiscent of The Clash’s Sean Flynn. Plaintive bliss and pronounced piano and sung in a burnt-out estuary accent.
The aforementioned sense is subtly implied rather than overt in the closing track Satellite Gazing with its Robert Wyatt Rock Bottom style backdrop and Coleridge-like depiction of a Skeleton Ship – an image loosely deployed by both the likes of Brian Eno and Iron Maiden. This contemplative track comes across as both futuristic and archaic amid a toned-down All You Need Is Love uplift, and that is most definitely the real deal in Gabi’s book. She has packed so much into The Creation Of Birds that it seems ‘longer’ than it actually is.
In addition to the digital release, the EP will be available on CD with a limited edition zine, including lyrics, illustrations and photos.