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Gemma Ray

British pop music has plenty of retro-soul and R&B acts, but the recordings of singer/songwriter Gemma Ray reveal a more complex and restless artistic nature than most. Reaching back to pre-Beatles rock for inspiration -- but tossing in a jumble of influences including the torch songs of Billie Holiday, film scores, flamenco, and more -- Ray has sculpted a sound that is familiar and warm, but also appealingly off-kilter and full of noir-ish touches.

The Essex native released her first album, The Leader, in early 2008 on the U.K.-based indie label Bronzerat. Aloft on a cloud of positive reviews from the British press, she was about to embark on a tour when she became ill and had to cancel a number of profile-raising shows. While recuperating, Ray wrote a batch of new songs and recorded them in a modest home studio with co-producer Michael J. Sheehy. The resulting Lights Out Zoltar!, released in late 2009, was an ambitious work that belied its homemade origins by boasting an expansive concert hall sound. Ray took the opposite approach for her third album, It's a Shame About Gemma Ray, which found her covering 16 songs (ranging from Buddy Holly's "Everyday" to Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick") in spooky, stripped-down versions. She continued to stretch out artistically on her more pop-oriented 2012 album Island Fire, which found her not only covering two songs by Sparks, but also collaborating with the band. A year later she released the vinyl-only Down Baby Down, a more experimental record with help from Thomas Wydler of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. The prolific run continued in 2014 with her sixth full-length, Milk for Your Motors, recorded upon Ray's relocation to Berlin. She returned in 2016 with The Exodus Suite, a nearly hour-long set of torch songs with lead vocals and core band recorded live at Candy Bomber Studios in Berlin. ~ Paula Carino
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Island Fire

1. Alight! Alive!

2. Put Your Brain In Gear

3. Runaway

4. Trou De Loup

5. Fire House

6. Flood And A Fire

7. Make It Happen

8. Rescue Me

9. They All Wanted A Slice

10. I Can See You

11. Bring Ring Ring Yeah

12. Here Comes The Light

13. How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?

14. Eaten By The Monster Of Love

x

Track List: It's A Shame About Gemma Ray

1. Put The Bolt In The Door

2. I'd Rather Be Your Enemy

3. Ghost On The Highway

4. S.U.D

5. Touch Me I'm Sick

6. Just Because

7. Swampsnake

8. Everyday

9. Rosemary's Baby Vs. Drunken Butterfly

10. Bei Mir Bist Du Shein

11. Big Spender

12. Looking The World Over

13. Only To Other People

14. I'd Rather Go Blind

15. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart

16. I've Got A Crush On You

x

Track List: Lights Out Zoltar!

1. 100 Mph (In 2nd Gear)

2. Snuck A Peek

3. Tough Love

4. Fist Of A Flower

5. 1952

6. (You Got Me In A) Death Roll

7. Goody Hoo

8. No Water

9. Dig Me A River

10. If You Want To Rock And Roll

11. Something Shifted

12. So Do I

x

Track List: Down Baby Down

1. The Low Rising

2. Gozo Theme

3. Say You Love Me

4. Reunion Waltz

5. Carpathian Lullaby

6. The Letter

7. Baby Goes Bad

8. Exo-Orbit

9. So Long Serenata

10. No Star

x

Track List: Milk For Your Motors

1. The Wheel

2. Shake Baby Shake

3. Buckle Up

4. When I Kissed You

5. The Right Thing Did Me Wrong

6. Long Live This Life

7. Desoto

8. Waving At Mirrors

9. Motorbike

10. Out In The Rain

11. Rubbing Out Your Name

12. Old Love

13. You Changed Me

Comments

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A vinyl-only release in 2013 and then she moves to Berlin. Edgy. But I have a soft spot for film noir music.
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Just heard her for the first time with "Put That Bolt In The Door" as my introduction . I thought it was very raw and powerful and I was very impressed. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

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