Album Of The Week: Gabrielle Aplin – Phosphorescent

The singer-songwriter collaborates with lockdown and the great British countryside on her fourth studio album

It’s easy enough to pinpoint where Gabrielle Aplin was emotionally when she wrote Phosphorescent. Aplin’s fourth studio album is a lockdown record and, like many of us were, she is somewhere between restlessness and slow living, regretting missed opportunities and dreaming of reconnection. It’s also not hard to guess where she was geographically. Phosphorescent has roots deep in the soil of the English countryside, soaked in sun and backed by birdsong. Much like she does in her debut, English Rain, Aplin lets her surroundings inform the mood and sound of Phosphorescent to stunning effect.

Gabrielle Aplin - Never Be The Same (Official Lyric Video)

The world fell in love with a then eighteen-year-old Aplin’s voice on a John Lewis advert. Her ability to grab onto your heartstrings and not let go is just as impressive a decade on, if not more so. On her fourth studio album, Aplin gives a masterful vocal performance, from the sugary pop stylings of ‘Never Be The Same’ to the soaring, devastating ‘Don’t Know What I Want’. In the latter, Aplin reinforces the central feeling of the record – she is in limbo.

Gabrielle Aplin - Call Me (Official Video)

From a post-pandemic perspective, the album perfectly captures the duality of “I have so much more time at home!” and “I have so much more time at home…”. In ‘Half In Half Out’, a dreamy pop ballad reminiscent of Natalia Imbruglia, Aplin feels drawn in two different directions; in ‘Call Me’ she lusts after human connection for three and a half minutes of euphoric synth-pop. ‘Mariana Trench’, the penultimate track on the album, is frankly and devastatingly lonely. “I can’t remember the last time we met, and I miss you,” she sings, in soft, whispery tones.

Gabrielle Aplin - Skylight (Official Audio)

But as frank as it is about isolation, the record finds plenty of joy in space and silence. ‘Skylight’, the album’s opener, paints a sunshiny picture of life in the British countryside. Folk-pop track ‘I Wish I Didn’t Press Send’ is the twinkliest, cosiest song about drunken regrets you’ll ever hear; blunt and earnest about what happens when your only source of entertainment is getting wine drunk on your sofa. Aplin has produced a rare thing: a lockdown record that holds up in the light of day. Grab your wellies, put your headphones in, and take it outside.

Gabrielle Aplin’s Phosphorescent is available to buy and stream from Friday 6 January.