4AD - 2004 - 44 minutes

Rachel Goswell first made her presence felt in the music world as the co-founder and lead singer of Slowdive. After Slowdive, she teamed up with former band-mates Neil Halstead and Ian McCutcheon to form Mojave 3. Halstead is very much the leader of M3, and it is clear from this brilliant solo debut, that his strict reign has significantly undermined Goswell's role in the band.

'Waves Are Universal' could be viewed as Goswell's rebuke to Halstead's critically acclaimed 2002 solo effort 'Sleeping On Roads'. Label 4AD have denied this, saying her first foray into a solo career is not a result of any internal tension within the band, claiming rather that Goswell was inspired by "changes in her life."

Over a decade since she first appeared, Goswell's first solo effort is well worth the wait. It is a beautifully bittersweet collection of mellow, melancholic and hopeful tracks. The opening track is 'Warm Summer Sun', a simple tale of a day that starts badly and doesn't get any better. Goswell has decided to ditch the delay and reverb that have been hallmarks of her band albums and here her voice is the focal point of every track.

The mood of the album is somewhat ambiguous. Goswell's sweet tones could sit as easily with a windswept winter afternoon, as they do with it a sultry summer evening. The album hangs on her captivating voice, but is wrapped in a plethora of warm sounding chords and instruments. The natural feel is added to by the inclusion of various ambient sounds, ranging from London's Camden Road to Thai waves.

Séamus Leonard

Tracklisting: Warm Summer Sun - Gather Me Up - No Substitute - Deelay - Plucked - Hope - Coastline - Shoulder The Blame - Save Yourself - Thru The Dawn - Beautiful Feeling - Sleeping and Tooting