This ‘Rukhsana Merrise article was written by Tom James Putterill, a GIGsoup contributor
Ever heard of Rukhsana Merrise? She has just released her first EP called ‘September Songs’, she performed at Glastonbury this year on the BBC Introducing Stage and she is energising, gifted and elegant. Born in West London, the singer-songwriter’s debut suggests that she has the potential to become a refreshing and influential artist on the British music scene.
‘So They Say’ commences the EP. It’s like opening your eyes for the first time on an exotic holiday after sleeping off that jetlag and arse-ache: natural, therapeutic and filled with satisfaction. The track awakens with the singing of birds and the falling of water which fills our senses with natural imagery of woodland and mysticism.
Although a touch clichéd, it contributes to the serenity that is evoked in the track and helps to fortify an underlying element of Merrise’s style.The soft, slightly folkish guitar plucking is reinforced by the background, progressive beat of the drums. There are repeated interludes from nature’s voice, yet Merrise’s humming and vocals equals the beauty of any sound effects included. It’s a song that balances the appreciation of what we have in life with the idealistic daydreams of the future, or so they say.
‘See You Again’ once more encourages a detachment from the present before drifting away into a “champagne dream.” There is a reappearance of environmental intervention – with effects of falling water and thunder; a more perturbed daydream this time around perhaps? It would seem so, as Merrise softly hums “blood stains have blames on my memory stairway“ with further reference to daydreams, replaying moments and the desperate cry of “where are you now?“ The despairing recollections of a long lost love implemented by both folkish guitar and contemporary R&B that’s humble and not over exaggerated expresses an experimental but effective sound.
Thirdly, the initial importance of ‘Soon’ is to shine extra inquisitive spotlight on to Merrise’s vocals. She has powerful and soothing skills, reinforced by impressive lyrics of “seeing sounds, can’t come down – Purple Haze.“ This intelligent reference to Jimi Hendrix demonstrates how his euphoric psychedelic experience of ‘Purple Haze’ can be transferrable and matched to the reminiscences mentioned by Rukhsana.
‘Soon’ is well written and impressively performed but it is impeded by the confrontational club music which fails to conform to the EP’s intentions. It works in providing some needed energy to the EP but it seems slightly exaggerated, with substandard conviction.
After the slight disappointment to ‘Seeing Sounds,’ Merrise redeems her intentions in ‘Standing Still.’ Her enjoyment of soft ‘“oohing,” which is repeated throughout her records, is put to full effect in this cleverly composed song. It touches on ‘small town syndrome’ and a lack of progress. Packed with nostalgia and memories for our home town whilst simultaneously critical in the lack of movement when unwilling to leave and explore. The speaker has “plenty of time to kill” as she is “standing still, saying that I will, move slowly.” Again, credit to her writing skills and voice – it is another thoughtful track that prematurely draws the curtains to Rukshana Merrise’s EP debut.
Her first two tracks will massage anyone’s ears – two should-be hits that are thoroughly impressive and refreshing. ‘Soon’ is debateable and hard to label, experimental and potentially an attempt to attract a wider audience whilst boasting flexibility; unfortunately to anticlimactic effect. The themes of memory, reverie and contemplation hold strong throughout and the natural sound effects, authentic and humble instrumentals with soothing vocals hold the foundations to the success of ‘September Songs’. Hopefully we will see you again soon, Rukhsana.
‘September Songs’ is out on the 25th September.