|Lou Rhodes — Theyesandeye (22nd July, 2016)|
Lou Rhodes — Theyesandeye (22nd July, 2016) ★↔★ Trading in the complex electronics of her previous project Lamb for simple folk, singer Lou Rhodes continued on her own after the breakup of Lamb in 2004. Around the same time, her relationship with the father of her children deteriorated and Rhodes ended up leaving London for Ridge Farm, a commune in Surrey, England, where she rejected a typical rock lifestyle. In early 2006, she self–released her debut solo record, Beloved One, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize, but lost out to Sheffield–based indie rockers Arctic Monkeys.
★↔★ She has released six albums with Lamb including Backspace Unwind (2014) and regularly collaborates with other musicians, both as a songwriter and vocalist. Lou is also a published author with essays included in Scott Heim’s The First Time I Heard series and her children’s books The Phlunk and The Phlunk’s Worldwide Symphony.
★↔★ “Rhodes has distilled the singer–songwriter method down to its absolute essence.” — BBC Music
★↔★ “Though she’s since headed folk–wards in her solo guise, her mood remains unlifted.” — The IndependentBirth name: Louise Ann Rhodes
Location: Surrey ~ Manchester ~ Wiltshire, England
Album release: 22nd July, 2016
Record Label: Nude Records
01 All the Birds 3:51
02 All I Need 3:33
03 Angels 2:31
04 Sea Organ 3:45
05 Them 3:15
06 Hope & Glory 3:19
07 Circle Song 4:01
08 Sun & Moon 1:41
09 Full Moon 3:03
10 Never Forget 2:44
11 Magic Ride 3:14
★ Written by Lou Rhodes (1, 2, 4 — 11, except track 3: written by Jamie Smith, Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft.
★ Written by [Genius Input From] — Simon ByrtCredits:
↔ Danny Keane Arranged by [Strings]
↔ Gladys Paulus Artwork [Ram’s Head Mask & Felt Clothing]
↔ Danny Keane Cello
↔ Jon Thorne Double Bass
↔ Nikolaj Bjerre Drums, Percussion
↔ Ian Kellett Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
↔ Simon Byrt Piano, Bass, Guitar [Nylon String Guitar], Synthesizer, Glockenspiel
↔ Lou Rhodes Vocals, Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine, Drum [Kick Drum], Bells
↔ Tom Moth Harp
↔ Antonia Pagulatos, Oli Langford Violin
↔ Natalie Holt Viola
↔ Gabriel Luppi (track 7) Vocals [Male Vocal]
↔ Phil Parsons Engineer
↔ John Golden Mastered
↔ Noah Georgeson Mixed
↔ Laura Williams Photography
↔ Lou Rhodes, Simon Byrt Producer
↔ Simon Changer Recorded [Strings]
↔ Darren Simpson Recorded [Strings] [Assisted]
↔ Mat Martin Sleeve, Design
↔ Lou Rhodes Typography [Handwriting]
Andy Gill, Wednesday 20 July 2016, Score: ****
Download this: All The Birds; All I Need; Sea Organ; Them; Sun & Moon
★↔★ It’s hard not to read the cover shot of Lou Rhodes toting a ram’s head as a signal of how far she’s grown since her days as half of electro trip–hop duo Lamb. Certainly, Theyesandeye bears scant relation to that earlier work, and represents a firm step forward from the basic folk style of her three previous solo albums. This is surely due in large part to co–producer Simon Byrt, an analogue fetishist whose antique reverb units lend Theyesandeye a spacious, ghostly ambience which shifts Rhodes’s songs into the psychedelically tinged “wyrd–folk” territory explored by Natasha Khan on the early Bat For Lashes albums — another irresistible connotation of that ram’s–head sleeve photo.
★↔★ “All The Birds” opens the album with Rhodes “waiting for this song to come and fall into my heart”, her acoustic guitar and sparse percussion haunted by wordless backing–vocal moans. It establishes the “true adoration of sweet Mother Nature” subsequently hymned in “All I Need”, with guitar, piano and more of those effusive, oceanic backing vocals marshalled in celebration of the simplicity and wonder of the natural world “that brought me you”. This alliance of love and nature recurs later in “Sun & Moon”, a brief exercise in romantic bucolicism where tiny guitar and piano notes are woven into a delicate web of sound carrying the planetary allegory of loving partners.
★↔★ Elsewhere, Rhodes’ throwback hippie tendencies are evident in songs like “Them”, a critique of simplistic finger–pointing attitudes (“One finger points away, the others point right back”) with spooky strings and piano borne along by military snare tattoo; and “Sea Organ”, where her pulsing guitar is joined by gentle harp glissandi for a rallying–cry to her “brothers and sisters of the sun” to repair the ecological damage of an era when life was judged by “what we had, rather than what we gave to it”. It’s an attractive, still beguiling attitude that courses through the album like ambrosia, offering a welcome, if unworldly, alternative to pop’s prevailing discourse of acquisitive antagonism and automated emotions.
↔ 2006 Beloved One (Infinite Bloom Recordings)
↔ 2007 Bloom (A&G Records)
↔ 2010 One Good Thing (Motion Audio, distributed by Ninja Tune)
↔ 2016 theyesandeye (Nude Records)
★↔★ It is testament to the resilience of the human spirit to not only recover from exploration to the fringes of the human experience, but to return from the journey more steadfast and fully formed. It’s a notion explored by writers like Kerouac (On The Road) and Krakauer (Into The Wild), whose protagonists have chosen to live deliberately in a world without boundaries, regardless of the circumstances. During the time after the release of 2007’s ‘Bloom’, Lou Rhodes found comfort in those stories while she navigated through the valleys of her own life, absorbing both the end of a precious relationship and the death of her older sister. What she emerged with is the most complete and lucid body of solo work she has ever written.
★↔★ “Music, art, writing...it’s like some magical psychic drainage,” she says. “A way of tapping into the bigger picture of all it is to be human. There are times when I wake up with a deep, profound sadness that I can’t explain, but I don’t view it as a terrible thing. For me, it taps into something very real. A lot of my songs come from that space between happiness and sadness. It digs you deeper into life.”
★↔★ ‘One Good Thing’ charts a course through Rhodes’ exquisite journey, her guitar keeping pace along the way with finespun melodies that wrap her lyrics in warmth and clarity. A transcendentalist poet with a romanticist’s heart, she embraces despair and discovery with equal resolve, and the songwriting on this album reflects that passionate balance in earnest. For Rhodes, ‘One Good Thing’ is more than just the name of her album’s opening song. It’s a hopeful affirmation that forms a cornerstone of her identity.
★↔★ “Sometimes there’s one little thing that lifts you up for a moment and plugs you into what’s good in the world” says Rhodes. “It might be the sun rising over the trees or a beautiful thing that one of your kids does. There’s so much in this life we can’t control. All we can do is find the joy in the little things that happen to us along the way.”
★↔★ Recorded in the short space of two weeks, ‘One Good Thing’ is typified by a closer bond between Rhodes and her guitar; a relationship that wasn’t fully explored on her previous albums. The debut album ‘Beloved One’ was tracked at Ridge Farm Studios — where Rhodes also happened to live — and follow–up ‘Bloom’ was recorded in a more traditional studio setting. As a result, most of the guitar parts were played by friend and collaborator Steven Junior. This time out, Rhodes was able to track vocals and guitar together, and the songs benefit from that cohesive union. No click tracks. No overdubs. Just the rough–hewn immediacy of calloused fingers running up and down roundwound strings.
★↔★ “The performances are very honest,” says Rhodes, “my touch points were artists like Nick Drake and albums like Nico’s ‘Chelsea Girl’. Things that were recorded in a very timeless way. Because I’d worked on my playing, it was possible for me to do that.”
★↔★ With the exception of a few subtly placed percussion accents, the 11 tracks on ‘One Good Thing’ are intimate dialogues between Rhodes and her guitar, supported throughout with lustrous string arrangements by Antonia and Mike Pagulatos. • Delicate, finger–picked passages in songs like ‘There For The Taking’ and ‘One Good Thing’ resonate with a simple magnificence, leaving even more open space for her vocals to shine, even through songs that extoll the imperfect beauty of humankind. “It’s only human to yearn for something more, but it’s finding nothingness that brings us all we’re searching for”, she sings on ‘Janey’, one of the album’s most deeply personal songs, and also one of its best.
★↔★ From the start, Rhodes knew she wanted to self–produce ‘One Good Thing’, a task she had never before undertaken. Though she had “romantic notions” of going off to create the album in an exotic locale, none of the scenarios panned out. Instead, something manifested itself a bit closer to home — longtime Lamb partner Andy Barlow offered up his home studio for the recording. He also offered to engineer, record and mix the songs, thus allowing Rhodes the creative freedom to produce the album herself.
★↔★ “Andy and I had worked together for so long, and I suppose the biggest question I had was, ‘Would he let me make my album?’”, Rhodes chuckles. “He was absolutely fantastic in that. He would come up with ideas and suggest things, but if I told him I wanted to keep it simple, he let me be. Andy’s like my brother. Sometimes we wind each other up, but we can be very honest with each other as well. It was a perfect place to make this record.”
★↔★ The combination of familiarity, immediacy and autonomy afforded Rhodes the ideal atmosphere to bring this new collection of songs to light. ‘One Good Thing’ also represents a new beginning with label partner Motion Audio, an imprint co–owned by Cinematic Orchestra’s Jason Swinscoe, an oft collaborator of Rhodes’. “It all happened very quickly because it felt like the right thing to do”, she says of the pairing. “I believe that life shows you the way quite a lot of the time.”
★↔★ Regardless of what it had taken away, life and circumstance presented Rhodes with a different path; one that she’s still following as she prepares to bring these new songs to the stage. The haunting ‘Circles’, featuring a tipsy slide guitar from Steven Junior, perhaps distills it best. “Life moves in circles, and so does my mind,” she sings, “Thought I was wiser but it seems I was blind.”
★↔★ “The depth to which I feel music...I feel it’s taken on a much stronger significance in my life”, says Rhodes. “I feel thoroughly self–expressed with this record.”
|Lou Rhodes — Theyesandeye (22nd July, 2016)|