Tara Nome Doyle: Værmin – Grace and ambition in fine voice

Doyle explores the voice as instrument on a kind of concept album

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Artist: Tara Nome Doyle
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Modern Recordings/BMG

Tara Nome Doyle’s follow-up to 2020’s well-received Alchemy expands on her talent for exploring the voice as instrument. Doyle meditates on “vaermin” – burrowing towards the nuances of a word that traditionally conjures up feelings of dread or repulsion. Her work teases out the idea that perhaps there is some grace to be found in overcoming these feelings, towards a better understanding of the complexities within ourselves.

Leeches I, with its spare, echoey piano and soft percussion, amplifies this quest, as does the prayerful Caterpillar, with its bright-sounding organ. Snail I is all elegant wheezy grace, and Mosquito is a highlight: underpinned by a choral element, it is a strikingly focused composition. Crow, with its celestial-sounding lament (“gave your heart up to the night again”), complements the mournful yet driving piano of Moth.

There is real ambition at work here, a watchfulness and a consideration. Restrained strings are folded in throughout the record, and some compositions sound like remnants of old folk songs fleshed out with an eye towards modernity, such as Worms, or indeed Vermin. The latter’s wonky music-box melody evokes a long-gone fairground, a discordant beauty that is “two sides of the same coin”.

This “coin” is cashed in on the instrumental -+, with its similarly woozy Lynchian atmosphere, and sense that there is a richness to be found amid the decay.