Claire Campbell chose the stage name Abagail Grey after meeting the character in what is described as an “eerily vivid dream”. And for that, she could hardly have a better name, because listening to her music seems like a slightly out-of-body experience, something that snatches at the senses and then comes back to haunt you later.
That dreamlike state is ideal, too, to tell the story Campbell wants to tell. This, her first record aside from a Christmas single since 2010’s Apple Cherub Dove, is a woozy, off-kilter sampling of ballads paying tribute to her aunt, who died of leukaemia in October 2010.
A classically trained pianist and traditional fiddler, Campbell adds delicate vocals to create a hazy atmosphere through which to channel her oddly affecting music. Through the mist emerge some fine hooks – opener ‘Dark Wood’’s haunting refrain is simple but liable to stick as Campbell sings to her lost aunt: “I hope I see you on the other side/We need more time”.
‘Water’ shimmers like a flowing stream as Campbell’s voice stretches to soprano to tell the story of an imagined stretch of water where those who have passed wait for others to join them. The four tracks on this EP are ordered in the reverse of their composition, so ‘Shoes’ and ‘Flame’ come from a time when Campbell’s aunt was still alive.
If anything, they are the darker songs, the fear of what might come greater than the acceptance and celebration of life that came afterwards. Those who have loved and lost will recognise that instinct, and find plenty to admire in this finely-crafted EP.