Release Date: Apr 19, 2019
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): R&B, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative R&B
What does a cello sound like? Deep, melancholy resonance: a violin that's listened to Joy Division on repeat, perhaps; a pale childhood free of grass stains. But ask Kelsey Lu what her cello sounds like, and a whole new world unfurls. Her instrument of choice echoes "a really old wise tree that's planted in the bottom of the ocean," she's explained, with "sea life living within it, specifically sea angels." It's a beatific, Laurel Canyon answer as serves this West Coast transplant's gentle romanticism, not to mention her poetic generosity.
A softness permeates the music of classically trained cellist and songwriter Kelsey Lu. Not the softness of background muzak or meditative introspection, but a concentrated, purposeful mood - one teased out by billowing melodies, bowed beneath her crystalline vocals. After dropping out of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and moving to New York to record her one-take debut EP, Church, in 2016, there has been a buzz of anticipation surrounding Lu's compositions.
Kelsey Lu's 'Blood' is an album voracious in appetite and ideas. Its scope is broad, its palate lush and brimming with vibrant colour. All the more impressive that this is the exploratory cellist's debut record, though it does have all the hallmarks of a young artist unanchored by stylistic dogma. Whatever impression the production credits may give - which include bro-step pioneer Skrillex and posh boy raver Jamie xx - it's best to leave those preconceptions behind when engaging with the record itself, which feels entirely of Lu's own creation.