The sparse arrangements on Su Shaw's debut album as SHHE evoke intimate moods and lingering questions

Album Review by Eugenie Johnson | 10 Oct 2019
Album title: SHHE
Artist: SHHE
Label: One Little Indian
Release date: 11 Oct

Sometimes to forge an identity, you have to break down the old one. This is the process producer and songwriter Su Shaw, better known as SHHE, undertook to help establish her creative identity. Leaving her relationship and swapping Fife for Dundee, Shaw found herself immersed in a new community who helped to forge SHHE as both her solo musical identity and a platform for collaborations.

Quite often it’s easy to imagine her self-titled debut album as the soundtrack to the type of artistic project Shaw has become increasingly involved in. It’s an album whose sparse arrangements evokes intimate moods. Guitar riffs and electronic notes frequently linger in the air alongside Shaw’s vocals, but there are intense moments as well. On Beds, Shaw gradually builds up a surprisingly oppressive soundscape, while BOY sees her searchingly question: 'it’s over, it’s over, so why did it begin?' before some of the album’s most punishing electronics burst into the mix.

However, sometimes moments can linger a little too long. The likes of closer Maps Part 2 – which repeats the climactic melody from Maps Part 1 almost unaccompanied for five minutes – can feel wearing. Despite this, SHHE establishes Shaw’s identity as a composer of hushed yet atmospheric and affecting electronic music. [Eugenie Johnson]

Listen to: Beds, BOY