You can’t swing the proverbial cat in the music or entertainment business without hitting at least a dozen people whose names’ aren’t really their names. So it feels right and natural that Celia Pavey should adopt a moniker to progress her career after taking third place in the 2013 season of The Voice Australia. There is an ambiguity around whether Vera Blue is a straight pseudonym, or if it is the name of a project/group, and at this point the answer feels like ‘yes’ – much like Bob Evans, the alter-ego-cum-folk-pop-project of Jebediah’s Kevin Mitchell.
Fingertips is an entirely more adult release than 2013’s This Music – a collected rehash of The Voice performances – and the Bodies EP of 2014, with the maturity being felt in both the music and lyrical content – one need look no further than the intriguing exploration of infidelity that is the titular Fingertips to illustrate this. Working collaboratively with producer Andy Mak, songwriter Gossling, and guitarist and songwriter Thom Mak, Vera Blue delivers a compelling blend of electro-pop and folk-pop. Those who are folk averse can relax in the knowledge that, with the exception of Patterns, the folk elements are confined to Pavey’s vocals although, to be honest, the folky lilt is what truly makes the vocal delivery throughout.
The vocal harmonies and layering on opening track, Hold, are worth the price of admission alone, though the chorus doesn’t quite mesh and feels a little clunky, demonstrating that the musical fusion on offer is a work in progress; a promise of what’s to come. The pop-style vocals of Settle – with the faintest hint of soul – show Pavey to be a versatile vocalist, and a delightful warmth is supplied to Turn by Pavey utilising her experience singing folk, however the guitar part on the latter is a tad clichéd. Patterns would be a most gratifying acoustic pop-folk song if it weren’t for the ‘glitch’ breaks marring it.
With Fingertips and Vera Blue, Pavey has exhibited a burgeoning maturity and artistry, and it will be neither surprising nor disappointing to hear her voice with increasing frequency. There are still a few kinks to iron out, a few blends to perfect but, with the current direction that is being pursued, it is all but fait accompli that results will be breathtaking.