Photo: Sam Crowston
Hard-touring and sweet-singing. That’s what Scottish singer-songwriter Rianne Downey leads with in her press, and we’d be hard pushed to disagree after listening to her latest offering that came out back on the 9th June. ‘Method To My Madness’ is the third EP in an impressive run of releases and demonstrates the artist’s work rate as well a purity of voice and a developing sound that is becoming more and more distinctive. Not only a one-off EP, the 9th also signified a special release for Downey – as she brought out a 12-track compilation of her last three EPs.
Admittedly, across her recent catalogue, Downey has brought about an implied meaning – that the releases have seen her grow up in public. This is none the more evident with ‘MTMM’, as Rianne’s newest material is preoccupied by the lessons of recent heartbreak. Resilience is the message, especially ever since 2021’s ‘Fuel To The Fire’ EP was a popular sell out – reaping the rewards from hard work and heartache.
Downey kicks off her most recent EP with ‘Songbird’. This opener is a tender address to the lost. A crisp vocal plays on some solid (yet also vulnerable) acoustic guitar foundations and this juxtaposition is almost directly parallel with Rianne’s voice. She’s hopelessly longing to pull misguided souls from the mire, yet her voice is almost elevated by this – encapsulating a purity and authentic link between creative licence and real-life experience. Talking of the first track, Downey said:
“Songbird is a kitchen sink lament to the struggles of modern love. It reads like a letter to someone, sealed in an envelope and found on the top deck of a bus on a rainy midweek afternoon on the outskirts of the city. It's often easier to express it in a letter, or a song, which, in a way, sets the words free. Like a Songbird.”
Track two, ‘Dancing In The Rain’, came out as a single in May and moves the EP into poppier territory. Again, Rianne loiters on the subject of lost love – yet in this instalment, the outlook employs youthful abandon and an urging of fresh hope. These slight changes in theme make for a more dance floor-ready sound and whilst again utilising the acoustic guitar in its armoury, electronica flickers through with chorus-splashed notes and a pounding beat. A self-admitted anthem of recovery, Downey looks to put aside the pain to find a valuable moment of euphoria – reflected in the pace and danceability of the song.
Photo: Sam Crowston
“Dancing In The Rain encapsulates that brief moment between a relationship ending and something new beginning and the conflicting baggage that comes with it: guilt, heartbreak, hope, emancipation. Musically, think of a festival in British summertime. Grey clouds are circling above, but the sun begins to emerge. It’s the last-chance dance, snatching joy in the face of adversity.”
The titular track of the EP, ‘Method To My Madness’, takes things to ballad-like proportions. Lyrics like: Tonight give your love to me / and I will give it life, boost the meaning of companionship and longing again into the audience’s conscience. With an element of just her and the keys, it’s really a song you can imagine Downey playing on a large, dark stage a-perch the piano – a spotlight distinguishing her as a ray of hope, beaming out of the abyss.
After this, again there’s a rather simplistic, yet dynamic sound – as now the piano is traded for a tone-rich jazzy guitar. The closing song ‘Paper Wings’ upholds this lounge-like quality and the guitar is a complementary tool as much as a musical one – offering Downey the space to let her voice fly although while keeping a certain intimacy.
So, ‘Method To My Madness’ is ultimately an impressive EP display and signals an exciting time for Downey and her fans as she hits the circuit with a slew of live performances lined up. Having opened her 2023 festival account at Liverpool’s city-centre-wide Sound City and The Great Escape in Brighton earlier this month, Downey looks ahead to her debut appearance at this year’s Glastonbury Festival with unconcealed joy. Announced to take to the Leftfield Stage, she will appear at Worthy Farm on Saturday the 24th of June. Before a big night at Edinburgh’s Mash House sets off three, consecutive nights of celebration in her native Scotland through September, Downey spends summer on the road and heading to the fields of other major festivals including Kendal Calling and Belladrum. All of her currently confirmed live dates for 2023 are as follows:
- Sat 24 June – Glastonbury, Leftfield Stage
- Fri 30 June – Scunthorpe, Café Indie
- Sat 1 July – Stockton, Munro Festival
- Sun 2 July – Dumfries, Youthbeatz Festival
- Fri 28 July – Kendal, Kendal Calling
- Sat 29 July – Inverness, Belladrum Festival
- Sat 5 Aug – Chester, Cosmic Cape Festival
- Sun 27 Aug – Kettering, Greenbelt Festival
- Sun 3 Sept – Jedburgh, Edge Fest
- Sat 9 Sept – Blackburn, Confessional Festival
- Thu 14 Sept – Edinburgh, Mash House
- Fri 15 Sept – Aberdeen, Tunnels
- Sat 16 Sept – Dundee, Church