Boomkat Product Review:
‘Awake But Always Dreaming’ is a record about memory: the luminous and beautiful formation of memories and the devastating loss or slow, insidious damage to the mind.
“I’ve read 1 in 3 of us will die with dementia, and a third of us are connected to someone with dementia through family and friends”, says Hannah. “850,000 people in the UK alone have it now and 2 in 3 people affected will be women. It’s quite remarkable really, and it’s getting worse”. Peel has created an exquisite, distinct album of two halves, full of vibrant, direct colour in the early stages contrasted with esoteric, dreamscape, legato movements towards the end. The bright, raw magic and joy of personal relationships are set alongside the gradual loss of her grandmother to dementia.
A childhood spent in the landscape of the Irish coast inspires a sense of openness in the music – places to roam and investigate – but there’s also a complex, darker, percussive thrust to these songs, as adult city life intrudes and, in its own way, inspires. The album has the feel of a dream where all of daily life is being expressed and decoded, from feverish rush-hours to the old sunlight of her grandmother’s fading memories. Peel switches from panoramic city images in ‘Standing On The Roof Of The World’ to the dissolving, hallucinogenic moments that define the second half of the album.
The album’s closer is a cover of Paul Buchanan’s (The Blue Nile) ‘Cars In The Garden’ which returns memory to childhood – “find the place that we forgot.”
Performed with her trademark music box and by way of a sublimely coaxed out, bittersweet duet with Hayden Thorpe from Wild Beasts, this is another fine shift in tone and perspective – from the grandeur and chaos of ‘Foreverest’ to something very simple, surreal and yet utterly moving and memorable."