1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 275

Don’t Sleep, by Rebekah Delgado
Suggested by Saira Gorringe

When considering the variety of female singer songwriters available, I’ll always lean to the more eccentric side of the street. I’ll take Gaga over Swift, Bjork over Carey, and Amos over Adele any day of the week.

Today, I’m discovering Rebekah Delgado. Where will she sit on this sliding scale of surrealism?

Rebekah Delgado once fronted the indie-rock band Ciccone, active for six years between 2001 and 2007. Since then, she’s been a solo artist, plying her guitarist / vocalist trade, to the tune of a pair of EPs and a single album, 2012’s Don’t Sleep.

I’ve never heard of Ciccone. I’ve never heard of Rebekah Delgado. Judging by her less than prolific career, I’d wager than not a lot of the public have heard of Rebekah Delgado either.

That’s a pity, because Don’t Sleep is an exciting release that deserves a wider audience than it initially received.

The album starts with Little Boy Blue, a sprawling low-fi folk tale with an expressive rhythm and almost nautical lilt. The lyrics are measured and pleasantly obtuse, but the most exciting aspect of the song and album begins and ends with Delgado’s wonderful vocal. She’s breathy, sultry, emotive and of so slightly unhinged, in the best Kate Bush and Bjork fashion.

While the concentration is ostensibly on Delgado’s vocal and singular guitar, that conceit is solidly abandoned almost immediately. There’s more music than you’d expect, more instrumentation, more layering, just a whole lot more stuff to enjoy at every level. The second song, Lamentine, has a wailing flamenco quality with a morose cello and a buzzing guitar, while the third Day Like Any Other introduces a delicate piano to the eclectic mix.

There’s a stumbling drunkenness throughout Don’t Sleep, as if the band are lurching around a tiny stage as a wedding reception collapses around them into the small hours, hoovering up the dregs of abandoned alcohol of guests long departed. The whole thing has a seductive lounge-band feel, a smoky back-door illicit cabaret sound that’s part Nick Cave, part Screaming J Hawkins and part Tom Waits.

Nailing a standout song is tricky, as this smorgasbord is packed with matured and fermented snacks. Sing You Through The Storm is strictly the most engaging and beautiful, while the jarring romantic shanty Scoundrelle delivers on its peculiar premise. Hell, even the piano instrumental Dark Waltz has merit. Overall, I’d go for Lamentine if pressed at this moment, but with so much variety on offer I reserve the right to revisit that decision down the line.

Don’t Sleep is a beguiling, poetic and disturbing sound from start to finish, and Rebekah Delgado is not your everyday female singer songwriter. The album is never less than intriguing, and often so much more. I give Delgado’s work a grand 8/10, and am saddened that it appears to be a one-and-done affair. Delgado has a unique voice that surely had much more to say than is crammed in this electric forty minutes.

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