Paste (magazine) - "Genre-bending but with a common gothic ambience throughout, Gemma Ray is equal parts story teller and musician as she skillfully intertwines a diverse collection of 12 independent chapters in the form of songs that stand strong individually, but intensify when put together."
Personnel: Gemma Ray (vocals, guitar, organ, Mellotron, synthesizer); Fredrik Kinbom (lap steel guitar); Andrew Zammit (organ, synthesizer, drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Ingo Krauss.
Recording information: Candy Bomber Studio, Berlin.
Photographer: Fredrik Kinbom.
Titled The Exodus Suite, the seventh LP from alternative singer/songwriter Gemma Ray is an immersive, nearly hourlong late-night gondola ride through trippy, seductive song. This time around, lead vocals and most instruments other than organ were recorded live in the studio during seven days at Candy Bomber Studios in Berlin, located in what until 2008 was a city airport. A striking unplanned influence on the recording sessions was the presence of some 8,000 Syrian refugees sheltered in the hangar below the studio -- regrettably fitting for an album that has the songwriter revisiting themes of personal and societal (though not explicitly political) alienation and trauma. The Exodus Suite opens with a prelude in the form of a foreboding organ summons ("Come Caldera") before launching into Ray's familiar ghostly surf-guitar tones and the yearning declaration "There Must Be More Than This." Misgivings about modern times weigh heavily on "The Machine" ("I fell inside of the machine/The doors were closing behind me"), which has her lamenting "I could have been more than a number." The anxiety is reinforced with pitch-bending guitar, irregular tapping noises, and howling mechanical effects. Elsewhere, titles like "We Are All Wandering" and "We Do War" ride minor keys and lyrical and musical repetition to a feeling of vulnerable destiny. A consistently brooding and steadily paced set, The Exodus Suite plays like a set of torch songs, but for humanity's sense of well-being rather than a romantic lost love. Occasional imperfections from the live recording process lend extra doses of humanity to the eerie proceedings, as on the devastating "The Original One" ("I only want the original one"), and contribute to Ray's most haunting effort yet. ~ Marcy Donelson