Review Summary: All about Eve's debut album succeeds by mixing shades of Gothic Rock and Shoegazing with a quiet and harmonic Alternative Rock edge. For those who prefer the most peaceful music and are patient to a certain degree.
All about Eve were one of those bands that either delighted the listener continually with their beautiful, dreamy soundscapes or made them cringe under the sheer weight of flowery, heavenly atmospheres created by nothing more than female vocals, a virtually non-existent guitar and some bass work running along in the background. Formed in 1984 by journalist and ex-bassist of Gene loves Jezebel Julianne Regan, and featuring guitarist Tim Bricheno and bassist Andy Cousin (who both played a vital role in the early line-up of The Mission), you would be forgiven for thinking that All about Eve were no different to any other band firmly rooted in the Alternative and Gothic Rock scenes of the 80’s. However, the band was fortunately more than just a mesh of Siouxsie and the banshees, The Mission and pop sensibility Kylie Minogue. For one thing, their debut album was so surprisingly successful, that out of a collection of fourteen songs, five made it to the UK charts: One Top Ten single in “Martha’s Harbour” (Played live on the Top of the Pops show in 1988) and four Top Forty singles in “In the clouds”, “Every Angel”, “Wild hearted Woman” and “What kind of fool”.
The band’s debut album was certainly something of a musical focal point in 1988, but since then it has probably remained as nothing more than a nostalgia record for those who prefer the lightest, dreamiest and most peaceful of music. Some may be shocked at the fact that an album released in the 80’s had fourteen tracks and may even question just how many fillers there are to be found. It’s no joke that every song on All about Eve’s debut album works well in its own way, but the one simple thing that works to the band’s advantage is that each song flows beautifully in itself, each instrument never proving to be an unnecessary addition to the sound.
Vocalist Julianne Regan may be the first thing that is instantly noticeable in this album. Her vocals cannot simply be ignored, specifically as each instrument never seems to be as prominent as it should be, and the voice is naturally impressive. Songs such as “In the clouds”, “Shelter from the rain” and the long-standing Irish melody “She moves through the fair” all benefit from Regan’s soulful vocals, and although her voice can get on your nerves at times, they do in fact add an extra layer of harmonizing sounds to the music itself. Each member of the band had their lyrical input, and interestingly the themes covered in every of ‘All about Eve’s songs seem to represent tales of folklore, peace, love and “white magic”, the latter of which being often concerned with the Left Hand path according to biblical and folklorean stories.
However, ‘All about Eve’ was supposedly never an album to show off how good Regan’s vocals or the lyrical talents of the band were, and when the instrumentation comes together, it certainly flows very well. Bricheno’s guitar work is mostly acoustic, but there are particular moments where a rockier sound is incorporated into the music, and this is more than evident on songs such as fantastically catchy opener “Flowers in our hair” and the very flowery “In the meadows”, both of which are carried forward by a strong guitar sound, strongly supported by tight drum and bass rhythms. As well as the guitar, bass and drums, there are added instruments that take their place on particular songs throughout the album. The piano is very rarely used, but when it is, as on songs such as “Martha’s harbour” and “Shelter from the rain”, it does the same job as the other instruments very well, and with instruments such as the violin and the synthesiser running their respective course throughout the music, styles such as Shoegazing and Gothic Rock are nicely incorporated, and never make the band fail to perform well either.
Despite all this however, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who prefers edgier, rawer music listening to an album such as this. Each song is written and structured very simply, and save for the odd rockier rhythm created by tight guitar effects here and there, the general sound is that of a quiet, melancholic one. It’s perhaps something to overlook, but the listener can feel very bored and tired with themselves when reaching a certain point in the album, perhaps because the stillness and almost silent nature of “She moves through the fair” threatens to be yawn-inducing the moment it starts.
All about Eve are not a band that will impress just everyone, and that naturally goes for the band’s debut album. It’s dreamy, flowery soundscapes creating images of peace, love and harmony will delight some, and disappoint others, but listening to it without distractions and reading the lyrics alongside listening to each respective song will be a treat for those with the most patience and consideration. The band would go on to make three other albums, but none of those would turn out to be as successful or indeed as instantly recognizable as this one.