Whilst you may know them from being one half of Hailaiker, or from their collaborations with the likes of Squirrel Flower and Novo Amor, Bristol-based artist Jemima Coulter has now released their debut solo album. Reflecting on themes such as unrequited love and chasing happiness – through both their own lived experiences and imagined situations – Grace After A Party is a beautifully poignant collection. Flowing with a shimmering, folk-strewn musicality, each track showcases Coulter’s raw, heartfelt vocals and ability to create stirring, emotion-rich dreamscapes with a swirling, immersive allure.
We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of their debut album, we caught up with Jemima Coulter to ask about the music that has inspired them the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to treat your ears to Grace After A Party as soon as possible…
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
I drew a lot from this album while writing Grace, mostly in thinking about storytelling and the details in the lyrics that make it compelling. The stories told in this album combined with the nuanced melodies makes it feel so directed, so itself and also perfectly balanced – never too much going on. Each section in a song sits perfectly on its own and in context of other sections, each song on the album sitting perfectly on its own and also tied to the others. I think the use of space in this album is not something I’ve found anywhere else; I don’t know what they used for the reverb, but listening to it, it’s all really ‘verby, but in a way where it’s like this special Carrie & Lowell room that’s a specific kind of dark and echoey but doesn’t make everything sound floaty and washed, and also ties the closer sounding guitar with everything else. Maybe it’s just the best mix I’ve ever heard ha. I listened to Carrie & Lowell a lot when I was driving, around the age of 19-20 – the combination of night-driving and this music seemed to swirl into an endless road. I’ve always wanted to recreate that in an album – you put it on and you’re there, it’s like a physical space, each song a room in a house, and the same things are in the rooms each time you listen but you’re still picking each of them up and turning them over in your hands and each object conjures an emotion in you.
Camille – Le Fil
Someone showed me ‘Quand Je Marche’ one morning and it was in my head for literally years until I found it on this album. There was a period while I was working on Grace (I think autumn 2020) – I was missing someone and I couldn’t sleep and I walked the perimeter of Bristol a few nights for nearly four hours each time and I remember walking the side of a steep A-road listening to this. I think she does nearly everything with her mouth? It’s really minimalist, but it taught me about using drones and melody and kind of inspired me to keep exploring that idea that you often just hear in folk. It’s also totally the opposite of what I tend to do with production and I love how her melodies totally carry the whole album. It has loads of repeating melodic themes and moments, almost like ‘acts’ and interludes which makes it theatrical, but in a really good way… It’s just a wicked album.
Sea Oleena – Weaving a Basket
I just think this is the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It makes time stand still. No other words.
John Martyn – Glorious Fool
I was shown this album fairly recently, after being aware of a few John Martyn songs. The bass in his music takes me somewhere – I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it. Sometimes it’s like it’s just John and that fretless bass and everything else is just highlighting whatever they’re doing. His music makes me think about timing and atmosphere more than anyone else’s at the moment. He’s not doing anything particularly dense with his melodies or his words, it’s all very felt and is almost improvisational. It seems that the songs are really recordings in the sense that they don’t feel concerned with how they’d stand-up as live performance, and that’s something I find about this particular album and in his other ones, that them being crafted in the studio in darkness and in the atmosphere absolutely comes through. I was reading Phill Brown’s autobiography Are we Still Rolling? and it includes a bit about them recording John Martyn’s One World album – they had speakers across a lake and recorded parts the other side of the water to create a massive outdoor reverb. The combination of nature and technology fits with the crossovers I hear in John Martyn’s music; he was clearly so ahead and on the brink of mixing jazz, folk and electronic experimentation. ‘Small Hours’ from that album is the best night-time song.
The Blue Nile – Hats
The thing I love about this album is that it feels like film music because it is so secured within timbre limitations and concept limitations. It’s like an ’80s rework of the Casablanca soundtrack or something. It sounds so ’80s/early ’90s it’s almost like a modern day pastiche of that period of pop. Again though – maybe a theme going on here -, there’s so much space and anticipation in these songs which I’ve found really liberating, like “yes, repeat that bit 8 times”. The whole thing is a massive argument against concision for me – like, fuck being concise; be indulgent, do a fade out. There’s three songs on that album over six minutes, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be inside them for the whole six minutes, I want to be able to do that more than anything, really.
Massive thanks to Jemima Coulter for sharing their Five Favourites with us!
Grace After A Party, the debut album from Jemima Coulter, is out now via Hand In Hive.
Photo Credit: Christina Russell