By Hayley Gaftarnick
Life is full of contradictions. Hayley Gaftarnick for example is a name synonymous with the Leeds music scene, forever promoting bands and gigs for fellow performers, yet 'Circles' released in October, is Gaftarnick's debut album.
I have been in possession of said album for a week, and in a way, my journey with it has come 'full-circle'. The notes I made during my initial explorations directed criticism towards the almost genre-skipping deviations of tempo, her voice and the constant repetition of theme. But I think I was missing the point.
True Hayley's voice is an acquired taste, sitting somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday it boldly dominates each track. Vocally she manages to add entirely new dimensions to some of the more upbeat songs such as 'I Don't Mind' and 'Self Destruct'. But it is when everything is slowed down and stripped back, that you really sit up and take notice.
There is no shyness or vulnerability in her voice throughout this album, despite her chosen subject matter. But these tales of confusion, frustration, determination and heartache carry a searing honesty that transcends the sometimes simplistic lyrics, and go beyond my initial, apparent requirements for fragility and introversion.
The title track of 'Circles' builds and grows, before soaring majestically and is in danger of becoming a full-blown classic, if it gets out Yorkshire. 'What am I worth?' belies its lyrical content by ending with accompanying orchestral support, growing in confidence. The album itself seems to recognise the need to stand up and shake off its internal doubts and fears with 'Your Time to Grow'.
The pace of this album rises and falls on the emotional rollercoaster of its writer. But what needs to be remembered is that 'Circles´ is greater than the sum of its parts. This album should be listened to because of its contradictions, nor in spite of them. Challenging, but blissfully easy to absorb; confident, yet uncertain, stark lyrical honesty wrapped in instrumental captivation. An album that ushered in my week so unenthusiastically, ended it with its choruses ringing in my ears, long after the disc has finished spinning. I am a new fan, happy to join the inner-circle of Hayley Gaftarnick.