Serafina Steer, The Moths Are Real

Victoria Segal

By Victoria Segal

on 01.08.13 in Reviews
Harpist creates a sense of mystery in an age of instant information

Creating a sense of mystery in an age of instant information is difficult, but Serafina Steer manages it beautifully with her third album, The Moths Are Real. There’s nothing particularly enigmatic about her CV — classically trained London harpist who has worked with Bat For Lashes, Patrick Wolf and John Foxx — but left to her own devices, Steer enters a world of her own, drawing you in by her side. Produced by Jarvis Cocker, The Moths Are Real flickers between the physical realities of love, sadness and urban life — the naked romance of “Skinny Dipping,” the wintery alienation of “Ballad Of Brick Lane” — and a frosted mythological wonderland that lurks the other side of the looking glass. It’s a record that trembles on the threshold between worlds, not just in its merging of folk, psychedelia, prog and electronica, but in the way the lyrics are sweetly conversational one second (“Of course, my scanty life philosophy, as you suspected all along, is actually based on lines from songs,” shrugs “Disco Compilation”) and as stylized and strange as a temple oracle the next (“Island Odyssey,” “Lady Fortune”). The reference points might seem to be in place — Joanna Newsom, Shirley Collins, Alice Coltrane, Robert Wyatt — but Steer sends the compass needle spinning, charting the places where magic and mystery poke through threadbare normality.