Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Lou Doillon - Lay Low, album review

Hushed Prominence

This second album confirms the promise of her debut, reviewed here, and as seen on Tuesday's Later…with Jools show, Lou Doillon delivers that sultry and low, occasionally raspy vocal live with plenty of atmospheric verve, backed by a pulsing band, especially on the title track where the live guitar-work adds a psychedelic edge [not realised on the studio track].

A more acoustic number like Weekender Baby showcases the drawl she attaches to her otherwise unadorned but nonetheless affecting vocal, less the speaksinging I called it on her first, but still a voice that tells the narrative with a natural warble for finesse. Let Me Go is similarly stripped back to voice over instrumentation, the latter more in the rhythm and beat, here a Roy Orbison echo that provides a crescendo for the song. Indeed, many of the songs – all running between two and three minutes long, all eleven adding up to a brisk 35 minutes of album time – have elements of languid rock’n’roll.

But it is the vocal and its prominence that appeals the most, as it should. It seems an amalgam of an Antony and Devendra and Joan Wasser, all of these connected, I know, but I am sure not necessarily so for Doillon as intentional influence. But this is what I hear. The track Robin Miller breaks this pattern somewhat, a song washed with atmospherics as ambient sound and a hushed singing that still permeates as the focus. These are not pop songs, not songs that are propelled on melodic lines, but rather slowed and reflective storytellings of love and loss, closer So Still starting in its soft considerings until, again, a crescendo of atmospheric noise, layered with violin here, transports us beyond. 

...and she loves a chili dog!

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