SEE: Ailsa Tully – ‘Parasite’: a bass-led tune with masked lyrical steel

Ailsa Tully, photographed by Finn O'Hara

HAILING from Welsh border country, Ailsa Tully is a singer-songwriter whose instrument of choice, the bass, brings a new slant to the crowded sphere of singer-songwriting.

We fell pretty hard for her first single for Dalliance Recordings, “Drive”, back around Hallowe’en, noting that bass-led thing it possesses evoked “… a sweeter Breeders … her bass chordal work even carries a little of The Pale Saints and others, coming threaded with the confessional heartfelt tunesmithery of Rozi Plain and This is the Kit.”

Quite something, actually; folky songwriting brought into a whole other place by the inventiveness in that bass clef.

Ailsa’s first chosen instrument was the cello, and it’s that early-learned classical technique, transferred across, that lends her songwriting its inventive melodic muscle. Add in her voice, tonally bold and delicate by turns, and suddenly there’s a whole new, recombinant direction in which music can flow: du jour folksiness in play with a more 4AD aesthetic, bass grace sparring with delicacy and darker guitar qualities. I won’t suggest folkgaze. Wipe that from your memory banks, please.

Unlike the video for “Drive”, which was a Radio On-type travelogue, Ailsa escaping the confines of London and heading west, ever west, for the twin bridges home, the video for “Parasite” is composed of timelapse footage of parasitical (natch) plants budding and shooting at a macro level; a focusing in, an introversion.

That’s a good match for a song which broods with masked lyrical steel about Ailsa’s personal abrading with the toxicity and gender power dynamics in the music biz.

“’Parasite’ is a confrontational song written for a controlling and manipulative person,” she says.

“It explores the insidious manner in which sexism takes form, particularly within the inner workings of the music industry.”

Lyrically, Ailsa begins by going along with the role of how she is perceived by this unnamed and baleful influence: a “feminine product” to mould, even design. As the tune progresses her vocals remain fragile, even choral, until she can keep a lid on it no more and the song begins to flicker and seethe.

There’s no doubt Ailsa has plenty to say, plenty to sing; plenty to evoke. She really is a talent to keep a close eye on.

Follow Ailsa on Facebook and Instagram.

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