Review: Shelleyan Orphan – We Have Everything We Need

One of the most unpredictable comebacks of the year must be from Shelleyan Orphan. Although it’s been a tidy quarter of a century since their formation, they were never a band one would associates with an 80’s revival. Jemaur Tayle and Caroline Crawley were out on their own; successfully merging gothic-folk with indie jangle and classical infuences. To be honest, little has changed in their style in two decades but considering no one sounded quite like them anyway, this is no reason to criticise.

‘How A Seed Is Sown’ is their music at its most life affirming. Right from its strident opening of organ and buoyant strings, Crawley coos in her usual delicate yet crystal clear way. Although Tayle is a distant second in the vocal stakes, his skills are just as distinctive where instrumental backing is concerned; setting the gothic folk canvas on which Crawley performs her artistic skills. Witness the subtly sinister arrangements for ‘Judas’ or the fragrant settings for ‘Your Shoes’. Strangely, the moment that stood out for me is hidden away towards the end of the record. ‘Beamheart’ is a beautiful showcase for Crawley’s innocent English vowels, accompanied by languid guitar and a serene classical backing. It’s just a shame that this moment of perfection is followed by ‘Bosom’; a misguided attempt by the couple to “rock out”.

Admittedly, ‘We Have Everything We Need’ contains a few too many lightweight songs to justify its fifty-minute plus length but it’s a heart-warming return, which sticks endearingly to the eternally unfashionable Shelleyan Orphan template. Fans can rejoice yet more with the news that all four of their albums will be repackaged into a new boxed set that will feature a CD of unreleased material as well as a DVD.

Web Sites:
Shelleyan Orphan MySpace

Further Listening:
This Mortal Coil, Goldfrapp


2 Responses to “Review: Shelleyan Orphan – We Have Everything We Need”

  1. 1 Scott Sinfield November 14, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Nice to hear about this, Jon. I remember seeing them on The Tube in the mid-80s, sharing the stage with a painter, and then saw them supporting The Cure a few years later. A sadly overlooked band, really. I picked up a bunch of their records on vinyl in a secondhand shop for 49p a few months ago. They’ll certainly not be to everyone’s taste and I can’t imagine that the box set will sell that many copies, but my name will be down for one, for sure.

  2. 2 Ian Wilson February 27, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Well, subsequent to the favourable album release Shelleyan Orphan still apparently had trouble getting gigs and airplay – I suppose they were/are too different for today’s corporate packaged commercial music (X Factor et al…).

    The boxset didn’t materialise either. I enquired with One Little Indian records who informed me that it was ‘too difficult’ to track down and get permission to include all the various covers and one-off tracks they’ve released for various compilations over the years. Those were the more interesting ones, but that still left the proposed boxset bonus disc with some B-sides, demos and radio performed early tracks, which although of interest to diehard collectors, probably wouldn’t have justified the effort and cost to release.

    Rather than release a boxset, a better way to go might be to release a double CD retrospective taking tracks from the albums and throw in a few more of the interesting bonus tracks – possibly more viable commercially. Or else re-release the albums separately, but with bonus tracks like the Japanese-only CD releases.

    Shelleyan Orphan would be the first to admit that they are a difficult band to market, so they might yet have better luck with crowdfunding.

    Love their work, though – hope they find a way to release more.

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