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Gemma Garmeson - Stalking For Dummies

Gemma Garmeson, Stalking For Dummies

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

GEMMA Garmeson has lived in London for nine years and has been stalking the live acoustic scene there since 2006.

Her sweet songs offer insightful, melodic and catchy musings on life, love, wooden spoons and flip-flops. And her songwriting has a folky story-telling quality.

Her debut album, Stalking For Dummies, is a great listen. Kookily charming, casually enchanting, it’s a less showy record that should still appeal to anyone who gets their musical kicks from the likes of Lily Allen or, more recently, Lenka. You might dig it if you bought the Juno soundtrack too.

Originally hailing from Liverpool, Gemma describes herself as someone who is good at maths and understands music – music being mathematical at its basis. From an early age she played piano and guitar by ear, and spent many happy hours of her youth playing and singing other people’s songs, mostly Leonard Cohen’s.

However, she didn’t believe she could be “creative” with music, and was as surprised as anyone when, in 2006 and aged 29, she started to write. The songs kept coming, and she started to play open mic nights. Her first proper gig was eventually performed to a very sweaty sell out crowd of friends at the Betsey Trotwood in August 2007.

Gemma discovered the New York Anti-folk scene back in 2001, and cites Jeffrey Lewis and Kimya Dawson as key influences. Like her anti folk heroes, her own songs are characterised by story telling, wry humour, simple melodies, functional guitar playing and unshowy but heartfelt vocals.

Her album encompasses all of these influences. It’s 35 minutes of nicely observed songs, wrapped around simple musical accompaniment provided by either a guitar or piano.

Highlights include the opening number Flip Flop, which kookily flip flops along from an acoustic bed and introduces you to her charming, sweet voice. It’s almost childlike in its innocence at times, but utterly disarming.

There’s a folksy quality about the warm guitar licks of I Don’t Want To Be Your Number Two, a tale of a frustrated love affair as relayed by a girl who’s not prepared to be number two to anyone.

While Shut Up And Kiss Me is sincere, honest and romantic in a “to the point kind of way” (featuring lyrics that include “I don’t want to hear about your hobbies, I don’t want hear about your job…”).

Title track Stalking For Dummies is a firm favourite, featuring a lovely acoustic guitar strum, and a cheeky insight into stalking (“if you want me to stop, just text stop”), while final track A To B is an achingly simple ditty that pays tribute to the efforts that went into making the album in a Moldy Peaches (Anyone Else But You) kind of way.

En route to that finale, however, there is evidence of diversity in tracks like the piano-soaked, melancholy change of pace that is Happy Father’s Day, the dub-beat of Skin (a rare rock out moment) and the enchanting violin-accompanied Favourite Offender.

All in all, Garmeson has converted her live charm into a really pleasurable listen… and a highly recommended debut album.

Download picks: Flip Flop, Favourite Offender, Shut Up And Kiss Me, A To B, Skin, Stalking For Dummies

Track listing:

  1. Flip Flop
  2. Who’s The Daddy?
  3. I Don’t Want To Be Your Number Two
  4. Shut Up And Kiss Me
  5. Happy Father’s Day
  6. Mavis
  7. Skin
  8. Paper
  9. Amanda
  10. Favourite Offender
  11. A to B