Gig Review: Rachel Sermanni

At Oran Mor on the 6th October, 2015

Tonight, the Oran Mor has been transformed into a folklore dream. Wooden chairs have been laid out in front of the stage in two sections, with an aisle down the middle of the corresponding sides. You would think you had walked into the middle of an elaborate evening wedding without knowing. Then you have to decide whether to slink out embarrassed or blend in as a subtle wedding crasher. Thankfully, neither of those have to be the case. There wouldn’t be enough seats to accommodate everyone in the packed out venue anyway.

The set-up, however, is extremely fitting for the performer of the evening, Rachel Sermanni. The folk songstress from Inverness performs for us on this autumnal Tuesday night.

Sermanni walks on stage alone and begins with the peculiar introduction of her song ‘Lay-Oh’, plucking idly at the strings on her mandolin. When she chimes in with her dulcet vocals, it becomes apparent that we are in for something really special.

When the song ends, her accompaniment keyboardist comes on stage and joins her for a stripped down version of the song ‘Wine Sweet Wine’, the first offering tonight from her most recent album, ‘Tied ToThe Moon’. The harmonious melodies of both voices and instruments blend together beautifully. The bassist and guitarists take to the stage in order begin playing songs as a full band after this song ends.

Throughout the set, Sermanni and her band capably cascade from delicate soft sounds to strong and powerful ones with ease.

Another highlight in the set is new song ‘This Love’, which is heavily laden with metaphors and plays to a sweet sorrowful melody. The cascading verse at the end of the song repeats with the phrase, “This love is not love at all,” making for an almost maddening spiral of lyrical realisation and creates an intense listening experience. Intervals between songs leave room for light chatter and off the cuff quips about songs and events that highlight Sermanni’s natural place as a story teller – incredibly humanising given the heavier nature of some of her songs.

Her music and performance is enchanting — and she’s only 23 years old. It may be the case that she is beyond her years, but if anything this only makes her all the more interesting and worthwhile.

The night ends with an encore which she admits she has never really understood the point of, but complies regardless. The closing number, ‘A Song To A Fox’, goes on to confirm that her style is something quite unique and otherworldly.