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Album Review

Roamer: Lost Bees


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Roamer: Lost Bees
Roamer is vocalist Lauren Kinsella, drummer Matthew Jacobson, bassist/guitarist Simon Jermyn and saxophonist/flautist Matthew Halpin—four of Ireland's most lauded creative musicians. Formed in 2016, the quartet's activities have been frustratingly intermittent in the interim, though it is hardly surprising given that its members are based in London, Cologne, Berlin and Dublin. One early highlight came in 2017, when Roamer collaborated with Irish poet Cherry Smyth in an Arts Council-funded project at Bray Jazz Festival. That project has evolved to the next stage, with the band's debut album—in digital format—inspired by Smyth's poetry.

Enigmatic, image-rich and emotive, the Irish-born, London-based poet's work lends itself well to musical interpretation. Kinsella, one of the most captivating of modern improvising singers, toggles between non-syllabic improvisations, haunting harmonic interactions with Halpin and deeply lyrical interpretations of Smyth's words. She dips in and out of the poet's verses, magpie-like, emerging with pearls. A single shiny word can launch Kinsella on surprising flights of grace and danger.

But Roamer's charms reside in its confluence of personalities, each musician leaving an indelible stamp on genre-elusive music that travels from rhythmically coursing ensemble passages ("Lost Bees," "Fairy Tale") through subtle abstraction ("5th Neck of the Woods") to impressionistic lyricism ("Water," "The Answer")—sometimes all within the same song.

A smattering of instrumentals provides tonal and textural contrasts. Halpin and Jermyn—on electric bass—ply a gently playful course on "Shore;" Jermyn, switching to electric guitar, conjures painterly lines on the unaccompanied "Suspensions." Roamer's four tributaries flow together invitingly on the (seemingly) improvised "5th Neck of the Woods," a loose-limbed hybrid of skittish rhythms and lowing melody.

With writing duties shared, Roamer's aesthetic, at least on record, is one of clearly defined compositional frameworks, with a touch of post-production by Swedish bassist/producer Petter Eldh. That said, pockets of improvisation flower throughout. Kinsella's vocals may just about steal the show, but Smyth, lest we forget, is the real catalyst here. Her lyrics are reproduced in full in the handsomely packaged, limited-edition Notebook format of the album—a fitting jewel case for such finely wrought music. Recommended for lovers of the poetic, in words and in music.

Track Listing

Lost Bees; 5th Neck of the Woods; Fairy Tale; Shore; Haiku; Suspensions; Water; The Answer; In The Same Sphere.


Lauren Kinsella: voice / vocals; Matthew Jacobson: drums; Matthew Halpin: saxophone; Simon Jermyn: bass, electric.

Additional Instrumentation

Simon Jermyn: electric guitar; Matthew Halpin: flute; Petter Eldh: post production (5).

Album information

Title: Lost Bees | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Diatribe Records

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