Release Date: Jul 22, 2016
Record label: Nude Records
Though she is also the frontwoman of the trip-hop outfit Lamb, Lou Rhodes belongs to an earlier, kinder age when songs in praise of nature were crooned around a campfire and it was de rigueur to wear flowers in your hair. Lyrically, then, her fourth album is hippy-dippy (“Just as if the earth had spoken in a voice so real - ‘come to me, children, for we are all one’”), but the music, mostly played on piano, harp and cello, is quietly dramatic and never less than fresh. Hazy and mellifluous, theyesandeye possesses a Nick Drake-like attention to detail, from All the Birds, which starts with the sound of seagulls, to the innocent, sinuous Hope & Glory.
This album has been a while coming – third track, Angels, was released as a standalone back in 2014 – and I would hazard a bet that a lot of that time was spent burnishing every song to perfection. It seems prosaic to state but the thing that leaps out on first listen is the sheer amount of care that has gone into making theyesandeye. Apart from Angels by The XX) all the compositions are Rhodes originals and, though several bear her trademark concern with the heart and its complex emotions, others express an engagement with the issues besetting the world around us.
Theyesandeye isn't perfect, however. Despite its musical attractiveness, Rhodes needs an editor. In her obvious wish to evoke the sounds and spirits of Laurel Canyon she seems to have forgotten that the period's best songs contained lyrics as impeccably crafted as their melodies. The obvious post-hippie vibe in her tomes may be sincere, but lines like "...one color is good, the other is bad..." and "...brothers and sisters of the sun..." are just hackneyed -- and there are more than a few just like them.
Best known as half of Manchester electronica duo Lamb, Lou Rhodes has been quietly fashioning a concurrent solo career in atmospheric, gently pastoral folk for some years. Her fourth album sees love balladry and witchy woodland acoustica collide. Cellos, plucked harps and electronic textures augment a sound that emerges somewhere between Nick Drake, Carole King’s Tapestry and the Wicker Man soundtrack.
Aside from her electro trip-hop neversurewhattomakeofthem duo Lamb, with whom she’s released six albums, Lou Rhodes is also an acoustic folksy singer songwriter, dontchaknow. On her first (Mercury nominated) solo album Beloved One and on her subsequent releases, she established her sound as a sort of slightly vaguely mystical, quasi pagan version of the singer songwriter genre. On this fourth album, Theyesandeye, we hear...more of the same.
This past month was a generally slow one in terms of album releases, and yet Carl and I were able to find some true gems that will surely stick with us through the entire year. I was downright elated every time I spun the rather joyful Wildflower, The Avalanches comeback statement, while Carl ….