Ana Silvera’s The Fabulist carries the narrative of Oracles to the next logical level, changing the overtones of the first album to create something more fragile, earmarking an album that is rich with destiny, dignity and forgiveness. It’s a deeply immersive record that is lush with instrumentation and passion, bolstered by a series of breathy vocals that demonstrates a sense of urgency and immediacy. It’s best to hear this as The Godfather Part II in her canon, as the work precedes Oracles, before returning to the narrative in the present day.
The album’s opener, ‘Halos‘, sets the tone for the record, embodying the flavour of the record; a sly, shimmering number bolstered by angelic vocals and stinging keyboard hooks, focusing on the essence and the thematic qualities of the album at hand. The album isn’t an operetta as such, but it’s certainly conceptual, mixing such themes as birth, death and harmony into the work.
Lushly produced, the most impactful numbers are often the most undressed, especially ‘Red Balloon’, which is largely acoustic, albeit one that hints at secrets that have been buried for much too long. Silvera is a strong vocalist, embellishing the lyrics with a collection of strident performances that open themselves up to interpretation. The mystery suits Silvera, who cloaks herself under the guise of the characters that present themselves to the singer.
Side one’s closer ‘Ghosts’ is a pleasant tale of re-discovery, embellished by portraits of unclenched diamonds, a pictorial guitar latching onto the story, embroidering the tune with a finger workout that recalls Paul Simon‘s efforts on ‘Sound of Silence’. The album as a whole is reminiscent of the late 1960s, and it’s possible to imagine Mary Hopkin on ‘Pont Mirabeau’ in her ‘Those Were The Days ‘ heyday.
Then there’s ‘Magellan’, which is quite possibly the most impactful tune on the album and could very well wind up on a radio station that caters to symphonic rock. The album’s influences may be American, but there’s something enjoyably British about the record: wracked with longing and yearning, the songs boast a certain whimsy that likely stems from an artist who spends her Friday evenings praying for the rain to part, and for Spring to begin.
The Fabulist‘s best moments rank with the best compositions Silvera has ever released, and although the finished result isn’t as unique as Oracles, it’s arguably the more rewarding album, and certainly, one that invites repeat listens. After scoring great critical notices with Oracles, the singer continues to build upon her turmoil and emotion, giving the album a sense of determination and commitment that is too often missing from the more mainstream albums of the day.
Where she will go next with her work is difficult to determine, but given the power of the pastoral tracks, it would be foolish of her not to record a more strip-backed album, with nothing to save her but a guitar. Art takes great resolve to hit its intended target, and as long as she’s happy to plunge into the abyss, then there will be an audience waiting in anticipation.