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Disguise EP

Foraging her way from the quiet depths of her own bedroom to the wild streets of Sheffield, Ruth O’Hare, otherwise known as Oxo Foxo, brings us her debut EP, Disguise. A fantasy fanatic with a fancy for all things wild and free, Foxo’s first record is peppered with the mythical. She encompasses her multi-instrumental talents with the aid of the increasingly popular loop pedal by layering vocals and strings to form a sweeping musical landscape very much in the mode of fellow dreamers Björk and Glasser. In her own words, “Disguise is about hiding, hunting and changing. It was written in the dark and recorded in secret.”

The EP begins by showcasing the enchanting possibilities of combining a loop pedal with such a melodic, gentle voice. ‘Turn It Back On’ plays on the build-up of harmonies, before dropping into a catchy pop template. As a whole, the album encapsulates pop music, though her fascination with loops and layers seems to give her sound a memorable and mysterious edge. This is perhaps more evident with the two slower paced tracks, ‘Blindfolded’ and ‘Starfish’. The latter is a brilliant example of Oxo Foxo’s dedication to the authenticity of her tracks. Not only are the harmonies relaxing, but they seem to perfectly capture the subject of the song, mirroring the feeling of being underwater, while the instruments capture the creatures of the ocean.

It is impossible to deny the quality of Foxo’s vocals, which hold their own against the host of other instruments being toyed with across the EP. Penultimate track ‘Snow Days’ demonstrates the sweetness and strength of her vocal range with an a cappella introduction, once again building up harmonies in loops and consciously building an animallike chorus. Probably my favourite track from the record, it seems to perfectly balance the delicate, natural minimalism and unusual fantasy elements that sum up the Oxo Foxo project.

Having already played several gigs across Sheffield, including Tramlines last year, Oxo Foxo continues to make her mark on the city as a brilliant up-and-coming recording artist with the release of Disguise, and I’m sure she will be keeping her fans wide-eyed and bushy-tailed with the promise of plenty of live performances as the sunshine comes out. A must-hear for all those who like their music cute and catchy.

by Tasha Franek (she/her)