Jono Moulds checks out the new EP from Verity White for The Rock & Roll Circus. Distilled was released on 8th July 2022 via WDFD Records.

Acclaimed, original and ever-exciting Alt Indie artist Verity White has released her brand-new 6-track EP ‘Distilled’: a fresh, brilliant distillation of Verity and Alex’s new sound and of the qualities that lie at the very heart of their music. It forms a potent, varied six-pack brew that’s impressed reviewers and fans alike, offering something fresh to fans of the conventional indie/alternative-rock scene.

Verity and her co-writer and husband (Alex White) draw inspiration from ‘90s paragons Skunk Anansie and Tori Amos; from electronica (like the duo Lamb and from CHRVCHES); and from bands like Paramore and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Together, Verity and Alex weave together driving riffs, synth parts, and impassioned but nuanced vocals to create alternative music that’s rich in emotional charge, meaning and relevance, that hits with serious clout and has blown reviewers away with Verity’s vocal talent.

What’s more, their sound has evolved — as you’ll hear in their new EP. As Verity explains: “’Distilled’ is the culmination of a lot of work, creating and thinking over lockdown, as we decided to transition from a 4-piece band to a duo and utilise the synths and electronics that we love to make a new, more modern sound. We wanted to make something that took inspiration from all our musical influences, from jazz and Motown to grunge and hard rock, and everything in-between. The mini-album itself is a smorgasbord of various styles, but we feel that it’s the most honest work we’ve produced yet — and that it truly is the essence of Alex and I distilled into a new sound (See what I did there?!)”

“We’re so excited to finally release ‘Distilled’,” Verity adds, “so much work has gone into refining our new sound: striving to keep the heart of what we do, but to not be confined by genre or expectations. This really is a whole load of inspirations in one, but it feels honest and like it really showcases what Al and I are about. I’m so happy we managed to get him playing sax on a track too: I’ve been teasing that he’s an amazing saxophonist for a while so now you all get to hear it! As usual, the lyrics are honest— sometimes struggling, but always with a glimmer of positivity and fierceness. I really hope our fans enjoy the musical journey that ‘Distilled’ takes them on!”

An unusual and fleeting drum fill launches us into track one on this six track EP, that being ‘Broken Promises’, as I hear the dulcet tones of Verity White’s vocal for the first time, which come into play almost immediately after the drum intro runs its course. First impressions are that her vocal style is very melodic and rounded, helped along by a continuous harmony, backing things up sweetly. There are no rough edges to be seen here, well not on this opener, that is. As for the tune itself, well, it’s driven by a mid-tempo pace, that musically, is difficult to pin down (certainly in terms of influence, a softer version of Evanescence perchance??), as the instrumentation feels stripped back, so much so that the drums feel like the dominant player, perhaps with the picked guitar on a par. As ‘White’ sings ‘I can’t forget your face’, there feels like a quintessential Englishness to her pronunciation of the ‘face’ – sweet and haunting all mixed into one. An interesting opener. Shape of things to come, or will things develop along a different track – let’s kick on.

Distorted synth opens track two – ‘A Thousand Times’ which within the first 10 seconds or so, appears to be running in line with the vibe from track one – brooding and evocative. There is more of that layered vocal, where a deeper and resonant lead is ably supported by that melancholic and sweet harmony, which certainly captivates. There is an obvious bass line grounding the song (either played via synth or actual bass) that all the other instruments ‘hang from’ and dominates early proceedings, that is until we get a sharp and surprising saxophone run, that ‘cuts through’ with impactful ease. There is a ‘jazz’ feel about sections of this tune, that seems to weave within the song’s main arrangement. For a song that feels like there is a great deal of space for experimentation there feels like there is a great deal going on here, no more so than the changes of arrangement and the addition and removal of several instruments, that on times, all seem to be vying for pole position. As with the opening track, moody and more than a little unusual. One to listen to with a glass of wine, or three.

A simply struck chord floods in ‘Just Try This’ which from the off, certainly has a slightly more up-tempo feel about it, which develops very quickly through the pre-chorus, as there is well defined ‘build-up’ heading into the early introduction of the chorus. As with the songs that have come before, musically, the band allow the songs plenty of space, and never saturate things to a level where they become ‘thick and over-layered’. This is epitomised within the very beguiling chorus, where the tune sounds full without throwing too much into the mix – quite simple and unique sounding. The bridge brings the pace of the song back down a peg or two, but it serves its purpose, as it’s just a respite, which sets up the re-introduction of the verse sections and onto another blast of the chorus. Stand-out tune for me, well, to this point.

Electronic drums, some sporadic percussive elements, coupled with a guitar and we are soon heading toward ‘In me’. Moving quite quickly through the opening, where ‘White’ picks her moments to vocally support the song, with more lingering melodies. The initial verse, which by some distance, has a rawer vibe than any tune thus far, where the guitar takes centre stage, with its ‘muffled/distorted’ power chords, which are prominent and easily drives the songs tempo. On this track, more than any other, it becomes clear just how important the use of electronic percussion is to the band’s definitive sound/style, and how much it impacts each song on this EP. Another excellent song, that can be split into two distinct sections, that being, verse and chorus. The verse is dominated by the guitar line, which is central throughout, and the more aggressive ambition of the chorus. Nice change of pace and shows how the band can adapt.

Road to Nowhere’ begins with a picked guitar, that when it began, reminded me of the start of ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash, it just has that sort of feel to it, but this is quickly extinguished, as the cornerstone of the band’s sound – percussion and vocal, re-align the songs musical direction. ‘White’s’ vocal is crystalline, right out of the gate, where is sits atop the now standard combination of just guitar and electronic drums, with a little ‘throaty’ synth thrown in there for good measure. Coming face to face with the chorus, things start to ‘rev-up’ once again, compressed by the re-introduction of the that ‘meaty, high gain’ guitar, and the neat lick that accompanies it. There is a familiar underlying melody throughout the verses and chorus sections, but this is cleverly masked by the band’s distinctive sound and how the songs have been produced. A brief percussive foray (somewhere near the middle of the track) is a classic example of how the band have ‘honed-in’ on the use of electronic soundscapes to augment their songs. This segment acts as a useful conduit and breaks the track up nicely, giving it more tone and texture. Another top song.

There is no real shock to find that ‘Another Angle’, the final song on this highly ‘interesting and eye opening’ EP begins with heavy use of synth and electronica, as the drum arrangements themselves, uncoil with some speed, which becomes extremely central throughout the track, both in terms of setting that metronomic pace, but also how the ‘beat design and imaginative addons’ develop throughout. There’s also a lovely guitar lick intertwined into this splash of sounds, which you would almost miss, had it not been disguised so well. The tune certainly has a bit of movement going on, as that inventive drum pattern, that always looms large, is the backbone to the songs pace, which showcases itself more within the bridge section, more than any area of the track, where it can be heard in all its synthetic glory. As the final song on the album, it certainly sums up what this EP is all about during its relatively short 2:59 running time.

One of the important factors of being exposed to reviewing new bands, is that from time to time, you will encounter an ‘outlier’ from the leftfield of the vast Rock ‘n Roll spectrum. This EP by Verity White is most definitely a point in case.

As with all the reviews I undertake, I had no pre-conceived idea on how this EP would unfold, save the introduction that accompanies this review, but, based on the six songs and the musical style that the band are forging toward, there are some key points that I feel need to be stated. Firstly, ‘Verity’s’ vocals are sweet, engaging, haunting and leave a great harmonious impression. The use of heavy electronica is unusual (to these ears at least), but ‘meld’ wonderfully with each of the songs production and arrangement. And finally, the inventive drum patterns/beats, which highlight that there are so many areas within the percussive world which can be unlocked to maximum effect, especially within this genre.

An interesting and captivating listen. One which I would not have listened to had it been for this review. Glad it came across my desk – enjoyed the trip.

Verity’s new album, ‘Distilled’ is now available for pre-order from her website in a variety of bundles, including a mega-bundle (with the EP, an A3 art print, signed photo, two t-shirts (a ‘Distilled’ tee and also one VW logo choice of either purple or blue) for £47.50; a midi-bundle (as above, but with only the ‘Distilled’ tee, £32); a mini-bundle (‘Distilled’ tee and EP, £20); and also just the CD, £5.

Links to Verity White :-