[sic] Magazine

Plum – Different skin

Although there are many disagreeable aspects of today’s music scene, one trend that pleases me is the burgeoning female artist movement. Maybe you feel the same? Had your fill of egos, cock-rock and posturing? About ready to wash your hands of the latest Yorke/Martin ‘damp pyjama bottom’ of a record? Then it’s time to lose oneself within feminine pastures. At [sic] we’ve championed a fair few. (E A Solinas is a notable evangelist writer on the subject.) Now I’ll make a pitch for Plum.

Edinburgh based Plum (Shona Maguire) has attracted a good deal of attention, airplay and even won awards for her music. Her music is fresh and modern, mixing folksy electronica with trip hop. Listen to ‘As trains pass by’ and you’ll easily pick out her amazing grasp of percussion. And yet her words and performance are suggestive of a world-wise head on young shoulders. The album, ‘Different Skin’ is varied enough that it never bores, never feels samey and flickers from genre to genre like a butterfly. Clearly there is a good deal of meaning behind these lyrics. Some of Maguire’s songs are almost story-like. Most notably ‘The Eagle and The Penguin’, which I’ll wager is mentioned in every Plum review. Don’t be put off by the animals in the title. This is no nursery rhyme. I’m reminded of Sol Seppys ‘Wonderland’ or ‘Enter One’. It’s that good.

And we haven’t mentioned the voice. It’s pretty, it’s crystal, it’s almost drinkable but best of all, it isn’t quite pure. Behind the loveliness there is the faintest of aches. Not all the songs on Different Skin are tear-jerkers but even the lighter stuff seems to mask a certain sadness. I can’t help thinking of Karen Carpenter. It isn’t that the two voices are the same but they both have that dull ache, that searing loneliness. You know, when she sings “we’ve only just begun” and already you’re reaching for the Kleenex? (Okay maybe it’s just me then. Send white coats. I’m ready.)

Plum is a cool customer indeed and I would have to recommend Different Skin. Here is a record that could melt even the most cynical heart.
Strong songwriting, originality, personality and charm.
The girls are back in town.