ACCLAIMED Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni will make her third visit to Shetland this coming week, writes Chris Cope.
The 22-year-old “folk noir balladeer” first played in the isles as support to English trailblazers Mumford & Sons at a packed Whiteness and Weisdale Hall in 2011.
She returned to the archipelago last year to perform at Mareel and she will hit the Lerwick venue once again on Tuesday.
The singer and musician, who released her debut album ‘Under Mountains’ in 2012, will shake things up this time around by padding out her sound with an augmented line-up.
“I’ll be bringing two friends to Shetland,” Sermanni told Shetland News. “Colin Macleod will play guitar and sing a little bit and Jennifer Austin, who is from Orkney, is going to be playing the piano. So in terms of the set-up it’s going to be a little bit different than the last time I played in Mareel. It’s really fun playing with them and they make it sound quite big, which is always nice.”
Sermanni, who has supported the likes of Elvis Costello and John Grant in recent years, revealed that she plans to showcase a couple of new tracks at Mareel.
Her last record came in the shape of the recently released ‘Live In Dawson City’ and since her teenage years the globetrotter has built up a reputation for having a compelling, sprightly and amusing stage show.
“The songs have the same core,” the Carrbridge musician said about playing live, “but there’s always room for reinterpretation and improvisation, especially with Jen and Colin on board. Hopefully that makes it a little bit more interesting and involving for the audience, because they’re helping to create the atmosphere.
“There will be newer songs at Mareel, as well as the old stuff. We’ll test out a couple of new songs – I can’t help it. Even though we don’t have a new studio album to promote, I think it’s worth letting people hear them and seeing how they work in a performance environment.”
The quirky singer-songwriter meanwhile is melting pot of influences, with folk fused with traces of jazz in a sound that dips toes into darkness as well as gleaming with melodic sheen.
Sermanni is also an avid reader and her love of literature ensures her lyrics are a captivating, absorbing affair.
Speaking about her influences, the musician said: “I listen to music from all different types of places. I guess when it comes to informing my music, it’s really hard to pinpoint.
“But I read a lot of books as well. The last one that I read was given to me by a publishing company…it was called Academy Street by Mary Costello, an Irish lady. It was so, so good. I also read a book called The Humans by Matt Haig, which I would recommend to every single person on earth. And at the moment I’m reading Ernest Hemingway’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.”
The future, meanwhile, looks bright for Sermanni. Featuring in a recent RBS advertising campaign “bought time and space” to allow her to continue to freely tread her notable path and her live shows continue to be in great demand.
And with her maiden album released two years ago, work is already well underway on its follow-up.
“We’ve started recording the next album and it’s probably going to be ready early next year. I’m really enjoying it. The songs probably have more structure than there has been previously, so it might make it easier for people to hold on to.”
- Rachel Sermanni performs as part of a trio at Mareel on Tuesday, with support from Colin Macleod and Arthur Nicholson. Tickets, priced £15 (£12.50 for concessions) are available from Shetland Box Office.