By Lara Bonner
Simplicity can be deceiving, especially when it comes to Paperplain’s music. Helen Page is a youthful, 19-year-old girl, but her first official release as Paperplain contradicts her naive appearance. Entering Pale Town is Page’s unique venture into the world of indie folk music. She stands out with her vulnerable sound, minimalist recording approach and surprising lyrics.
Her songs are captured on 8-track with extreme care. Listeners can hear the hum of the room, the tape rolling and fingers sliding up and down frets. It has a handmade feel that’s comforting and refreshingly uncommon.
Unique facets of Paperplain’s music continue to surprise listeners, like her use of atypical sounds. In the opening of Pale Town, she implements the tiny ring of an old telephone, and her claps and maracas keep “Foreign Fingers” bouncy and give it a playful vibe.
Page’s vocals are a major strong point on the album. Her sound is honest and vulnerable. Perfectly layered harmonies accentuate the depth and resonance of her voice, despite her light tones. Her voice is complemented by catchy finger picking on her guitar.
Page’s songs sometimes have deeper messages than one would imagine. “Foreign Fingers” tells of a girl convincing someone to come over and stay the night, despite having a girlfriend. Page’s lyrics are wise for her age, with insight into painful truths that we all must face: the disappointment and sadness of life and nostalgia.
Her admittance that it’s fine to be flawed makes her undoubtedly charming. Often Page’s lyrics have a sense of independence—the soul of a contented wanderer —“I hear the waves can open doors, but to be frank, I don’t need waves.”
The album closes on the softer, more solemn “Spin Wheel.” Page speaks about a love that just ended and how it was ending long before it actually did: “I can’t help but notice that the fire ended in November, darling.”
All of the imperfections of Entering Pale Town make them that much more lovely. The feel of the recordings and her witty lyrics and playful voice make Paperplain a jewel among new artists.