Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Gabrielle Aplin - Dear Happy

Gabrielle Aplin
Gabrielle Aplin
Half a decade has disappeared since Gabrielle Aplin released her acclaimed sophomore album Light Up The Dark. Having initially established herself as a tender folkster, her sophomore record showed that she was unafraid to shake things up and defy expectations. A poppy, upbeat collection that was infectiously addictive from start to finish, Aplin proved irresistible for radio producers. Although since her last album she has released two EPs, Dear Happy marks the return to the long-player and it is a return made completely on her own terms.

This shows. For while her first two albums are still enjoyable listens, Dear Happy is the record made by an artist who truly knows their identity and sound. It is without any doubt a growth from previous releases, with echoes of both within the album's 14 songs, but with new and interesting dimensions brought to the fore.

From the driven upbeat anthem Nothing Really Matters to the fragile honesty of My Mistake, Dear Happy is a reflective journey of Aplin's personal experiences. It is in wearing her heart on her sleeve and showing the complexities and contradictions of life experiences that allows Dear Happy to be such a truly moving and powerful collection.

While the retro R'n'B hook of Love Back is the album's crowning moment, it is closely followed by the super sweet Until The Sun Comes Up in the race for poll position. That being said, this is an album that doesn't need the listener to draw favourites, for it is best enjoyed as a body whole.