Ten Albums of 2019 Recommended – No. 5

Lucy Rose – No Words Left

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Admirable Art

This is a delicate and sweet collection of songs, the essence of pretty but with a clarity that defies affectation – what I mean is Rose has a voice that is effortlessly pure and is so across a range of the gentle to soaring, as in tracks Pt 1 and Pt 2 of the album’s title where the wordless expression across piano and then strings coalesce in a simple but powerful beauty.

Song after song after song all about me and my misery Rose is honest and direct in her lyrical introspections, and the harmonising choruses with occasional light orchestrations can be pop-perfect or more jazz inflective, either quite distinctive. Opener Conversation is sublime in its fine melodic lines and lyrical honesty – no one lets me down like you do – and the harmonising with again strings in comforting lament and some emotive energy at times. The piano and vocal mapping on Solo(w) is plaintively gorgeous, this with its shadow of saxophone setting the jazzier trajectory and an incantation of solo to intone deep personal feeling, this augmented by and I’m afraid and I’m scared and I’m terrified how these things won’t ever change for all of my life in the following track Treat Me Like a Woman.

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[the following is a ‘bonus’ live review]

Consummate Collective 

Lucy Rose’s album Something’s Changing is one of my top three of 2017 – quite likely the number one – and that is in a whole year of, as ever, outstanding music. When I heard she was playing Exeter I had to go to the gig. My only concern was whether she could deliver such sublime singing live, though additionally the supporting harmonies and instrumentations that complement her fine voice so well on the record.

From her opening song at The Phoenix, Intro, the same as on the album which she performed nearly if not in its entirety, the vocal was exquisite [and I have noticed in other reviews that the words sublime, exquisite and delicate often occur, so we concur] but the band was as perfect an accompaniment live as on record. And the entire gig was a flawless encapsulation of the singer-songwriter in command of her crafting and on-stage delivery.

In my album review I namechecked Joan Wasser as a contemporary touchstone, as well as Joni Mitchell from the past, both to which I still adhere. I’d add Feist to the contemporary highest ranks of Rose’s vocal company, and it was pleasing to read somewhere that Rose cites Neil Young and Joni Mitchell as influences.

In conversation with the audience, which is clearly an important connection for Rose – especially in gauging a liking for what she is playing – there was genuine warmth but also a vulnerability in her confidence, an artist’s uncertainty about how far people are communing with her music. It is clear she has over the years encountered fans who want to share their own stories, relating these to the often plaintive narratives of Rose’s song-writing. This need to empathise seems to be as strong for Rose as it is for fans, and The Phoenix was packed with a knowing audience to – for last night at least – assuage whatever artistic fragility seems, ironically, an important element of Rose’s personality and performance.

The stand-out of the evening was I Can’t Change it All, a signature melody, but in this song’s rising shifts and volume, Rose and band were a consummate collective.

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