I saw* Shiver Like Timber *– a.k.a. Brisbane, Australia’s Betony Dircks – a few weeks back at a place called Lanfranchis, a warehouse space in Sydney. It was perfect.
On the bill between louder, angular bands Tragic/Athlete and Yes, I’m Leaving, Dircks' set was contrasting, brave and rambling; it rumbled, too, haphazardly throughout. It was in a big room without too much light, with the ambience of the crowd augmenting her music. Her debut, self-titled EP is personal and boasts substance. It’s sparse, in a well-measured way, just her and guitar. This is perhaps the EP’s strongest attribute: there's never too much nor too little, despite the spareness of it all. Her voice is shaky, for the most part, making way for the occasional flourish of strength, but the sense of dynamics here is marvelously realised.
Of course, there are real elements of style at work, too, in the vein of Joanna Newsom, CocoRosie, or perhaps Mirah. You’d be forgiven for at first thinking Shiver Like Timber was derivative of them, for there are elements that are quite similar. But so too are there many aspects unique to her: the pace at which she tip-toes between finger plucks, the very particular geography she evokes, a penchant for imagery that is quite idiosyncratic and a desire for expression that is inspiring. Her EP is homemade, so the production is primitive, but the ambition is at the forefront.
8Richard MacFarlane's Score