Artist: Siobhan Donaghy
Siobhan Donaghy is sitting on one of the defining pop albums of the year. It's a charismatic set that blends an obsession with Kate Bush and The Cocteau Twins with some inventive electronica and bright sonic trickery.
She's already a familiar face as one-third of the original endearingly sullen Sugababes line-up, although it's now seven years since the schoolgirls charted with Overload and six since Donaghy left the band. She quit – legend has it, by going to the bathroom one day and never returning – just after promotion for the band's first album had finished, but she'd been in the group for four years, having met her first manager at the age of twelve and joined the Sugababes when she was thirteen.
"People think I was only in the band for Eight Months," she says today, popping a grape in her mouth on the fifth floor of her new record label Parlophone. "It was a long old stint by the time I left." While the Sugababes' career is presently overshadowed by some peculiar song choices and a transformation into what Only Folls & Horses fans might refer to as the "Triggers Broom" of popular songstrel triodom, and fellow Sugababes alumnus Mutya Buena is pursuing a familiar R&B; route, Siobhan's new album Ghosts captures an organic, fresh and eccentric approach to pop, the multi-layered theatrics of first single Don't Give It Up – written for a friend battling addiction-being typical of the album's anvatgarde sensibility.
Siobhan's beautifully styled new artwork – all muted greens and decomposing gothic backdrops with the inevitable taxidermised birds glued to foreheads – suggests that her Kate Bush obsession may overflowed into a withdrawn overly arty persona. In a reality, the London-born singer goes out dancing every weekend, gets drunk and buys cherryade from Tesco.
Ghosts is Siobhan's second solo record; her first, the undervalued Revolution In Me, a moodily titled but breezy-sounding debut, didn't exactly bother the charts when it was released with little fanfare four years ago, and Siobhan found herself without a home when label, London, cleared out three-quarters of its roster. Though she's now signed to Parlophone, a label well know for its (rather unfashionable) commitment to artist development, Siobhan refuses to be complacent. "I know that what happened with the first album can't happen again," she smiles. "I coped pretty well last time, but things become harder if you don't have a certain level of commercial success. I don't do this for fame, or even for the money, but on a practical level you want a nice budget to make your next record." For an artist specialising in a opulently produced, ethereal pop – think Madonna's best William Orbit moments – this is clearly a priority, but for the time being Ghosts looks dangerously close to raising the bar for British pop artistry. "It's left field,"she states, one decade into her career and still only 22 years old, "but it's a pop record. I think it will fit in rather well. Perhaps I'm biased."
taken from www.wordmagazine.co.uk