AMN Reviews: Poppy Ackroyd – Escapement (Denovali)

London-bred, Edinburgh-based performer and composer Poppy Ackroyd solo debuts with flair and moxie. A member of Hidden Orchestra, she is classically trained on piano and violin, and on “Escapement” she plays the former both as intended and as a percussion instrument. Fiddling with the inside of the piano is often to stick your hand in a can of avant worms but Ackroyd keeps it simple, using it as an oversize rhythm box, and whether with fingers, drumsticks, e-bows or plectrums, she draws sweetness from within.

A true solo effort in the proper sense of the word – aside from playing the violin and piano (which she bought and restored), she taught herself how to record and produce (on just one microphone – impressive) and did so home alone, although the final mastering was done by the ever-dependable Nils Frahm in Berlin. Ackroyd plays with sunny clarity and oozes affection toward her piano and her often-multitracked violin. “Escapement” adds up to sheer escapism, melodious and effervescent. Even a more introspective piece like “Lyre” is open and shared, turned outward. Some rain falls in Scotland, some birds twitter by the “Glass Sea” in the Outer Hebrides, and this charming album just whizzes by with the breeze in its hair.

Stephen Fruitman