I Am Niamh is the solo project of, you guessed it, Niamh Parkinson. And that’s a significant point to put forward here because the wealth of sounds that she produces on ‘Wonderland’, her first album, is the stuff of complete individuality, or endless pilfering – it’s hard to decide.
As a case in point, take New Home; Parkinson sounds like fellow dabbler Grimes, circa Halfaxa, as her voice is layered and melded over electronics. These layers suggest that she is not alone in her music, but it may just be that the effusion of her inner life is a constant whirring machination.
All For View has the staggered beat of someone like Tricky or Aphex Twin, while, hardest to believe, London is urbane with a hint of rhythm and bass like Lily Allen’s earlier output. But when you think about, if she is a curator of musical styles, she is one of talent with an ear for what sounds good and which style suits which.
She cites Joanna Newsom as an influence on her Facebook page, which is significant considering their similar singing styles. Parkinson is a Soprano, and someone who sounds classically trained. Her voice is not merely used to say words, it has a life of its own and is considerably instrumental while being prone to wild deviations.
The title track, Wonderland, was the first single taken from this album. It sets out a lot of what she is about, with lyrics like “Who belongs in Wonderland?” and “Where do you belong? Don’t go there if you don’t like truth” coming across quite bold but also very indicative of what she wants to do with her music.
‘Wonderland’ is Avant Garde for the modern age, as Parkinson not only uses orchestral instruments, with a heavy emphasis on a string section and piano, she also makes use of electronics and heady bass-lines to keep any notions of being high-brow at bay.
That is until you get to Fool, and you hear her dissing nights of heavy drinking and endless shot-taking in bars in the throes of bad behaviour. Who is she trying to appeal to then? It’s hard to say, but what is quite obvious is that she really doesn’t seem to care who her listeners are, as long as they listen.
It’s quite exciting actually to have an act like I Am Niamh coming through in the Irish music scene. She’s talented beyond belief and for the most part her music has the conviction of more experienced acts, despite there being so many different genres at play. ‘Wonderland’ should keep you happy for the near future but let us pray that this album is the first of many.