Album Review: Lou Rhodes – Theyesandeye

Lou Rhodes

It’s been ten years since Lamb released their stirring electronic anthem ‘Gorecki’. Their dark, genre bending sound put them up with their contemporaries of the time; Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead. It was very much the sound of the time, but they did it differently and created something above and beyond what anyone else was doing. Their career spawned a handful of albums, last seen on 2011’s ‘5’. Even all these years on, that song that first drew me to them sounds as current and relevant as it did the day of its release. Proof that great music transcends time and keeps its magic. Lead singer Lou Rhodes is no amateur as a solo singer either. Away from Lamb she has already marked up three albums on her own, with the fourth ‘theyesandeye’ making its grand entrance this month on Nude Records. As a solo singer Rhodes has been given the chance to create something so far removed as she did as part of a duo. She has still kept the rousing atmospheric sound, but does it with more traditional, acoustic instruments. The drum loops and synths have gone, replaced by guitars, strings, and pianos. The one thing that remains are the haunting vocals that gave Lamb their sound in the first place.

‘Theyesandeye’ is a delicate and easy album to listen to throughout. Everything is stripped back to the bare essentials, letting the songs speak for themselves. But it’s far from an ‘acoustic’ album. Every element seems perfectly chosen. The production is understated, yet deliberate. It opens up gently with leading single ‘All The Birds‘, a track we first heard back in April, and represented perfectly direction the rest of the album would move in. The bird calls at the start of the track with the woodland themed artwork suggest that this album has a strong connection with nature. And that sums it up perfectly. It is difficult to fit the album into a box, many of the songs could be described as modern day lullabies, whilst others would sound perfect sung around a camp fire. There are elements of folk music, mixed with layered vocals and the chilled out sounds that give a nod to early nineties bands like  Zero 7.

‘Angels’ (an XX, not a Robbie Williams cover) for example is backed with a harp (and let’s face it, there aren’t enough harps in today’s music scene). There is an emotional rawness to most of the songs, but nevermore so than on this track (with the line ‘like dreaming of angels, and leaving without them). An album highlight, and made very much her own.

There seem to be so many ideas thrown into ‘theyesaneye’, put together with a common theme. Rhodes is obviously an artist who still wants to experiment and create something new and original. With the success of Lamb, it would have been easy for her to put something out in the same genre. No doubt it would have brought her the same level of acclaim. But it’s kudos to her from stepping outside that box and coming back at us with an album like this. It is gentle,  but never boring. The songs tell stories, and create images. They combine melancholy with hopeful lyrics. It would be great to see new material by Lamb in the future, but this is the calmer, cooler side of a forward thinking artist who still obviously has a lot to say.

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