Camille O’Sullivan was not an artist I was familiar with prior to hearing Changeling, though a little Googling quickly ensured I had the basics, which was enough to give the impression that she’s a rather fascinating character. Born in London, raised in Ireland, she’s a vocalist, cabaret artist and actress. She studied fine art but dropped out before it suffocated her love of the subject, trained as an architect, survived a life-threatening car collision in 1999, and is now an architect by day and a performer by night. As the album cover of Changeling shows, she’s also a strikingly handsome lady who looks good in red and is partial to ornamental hares.
Changeling itself is a well recorded album consisting of cover versions of songs by such artists as David Bowie, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Arcade Fire and that bloke out of Snow Patrol. O’Sullivan has an arresting vocal style and the whole thing echoes acts like Goldfrapp, with O’Sullivan’s voice having a very similar quality to that of Beth Gibbons. Inevitably with an album such as this, some songs work better than others, but on the closing “The Ship Song”, she absolutely nails it.
On the whole Changeling is a solid album which seems to have been well received, yet O’Sullivan herself remains oddly obscure. There is something intriguing about her though and particularly about the fact that it took her a decade to follow up her debut studio album, A Little Yearning with this offering, which given that she’s an architect, actress and cabaret artist is perhaps understandable.
I’ve spent recent months reflecting on what I have achieved in the past decade, hell I was even considering including them in this review, riffing on the word Changeling and making references to how much I myself had changed in the previous ten years, but no. If nothing else in the previous ten years I have tried to exercise self restraint, which I guess brings me back on to this album. It’s restrained. It’s adult. It’s grown up. People grow older. People change.