It’s not easy making pop during a pandemic, but those circumstances haven’t stopped April Lawlor from rising through the ranks this year. The 21-year-old Irish musician’s nascent career has managed to flourish since coronavirus became our new normal, garnering praise for her dreamy debut EP ‘New Conditions’ back in May before going on to write and produce its follow-up ‘Luna’ over Zoom during lockdown. April’s intimate and introspective melodies are the kind of healing balm that so many of us who have been left frazzled and fatigued by 2020 need right now.
The County Kildare singer/songwriter, who made her first foray into music a few years ago by uploading demos on SoundCloud, has previously cited the likes of Lana Del Rey, King Princess and Gus Dapperton as being among her key inspirations, and each artist’s influence is discernible in April’s developing brand of bedroom alt-pop. The result is a set of equal parts gentle and existential songs that have positioned her as the Clairo of the Emerald Isle’s thriving DIY pop scene.
April may have confidently taken on the challenge of music-making during the corona era, but uncertainty remains the defining theme of her stirring lyricism. The ‘Luna’ EP continues the self-questioning and doubt heard on her early single ‘The Impossible Task of Feeling Complete’ as it wrestles with the many what-ifs of life and love.
Over the course of the EP’s four tracks April searches for meaning, either disbelieving herself or the person she’s waking up with: “You might think different, and it scares me to death,” she worries on ‘Forever (To Feel Like Tonight)’. Her thoughts capture the fragility of many romantic relationships, issuing forewarnings like “the deeper the meaning, the louder the fear” on ‘Watching You Disappear’ before narrating her knowing search for someone to fill her own emotional void on ‘Would You Let Me In’.
April’s innermost fears cut deep, but they at least arrive packaged within the sonic equivalent of liquid honey. The ‘Luna’ EP takes the quiet reflection of her debut release and adds a broader, more experimental edge. The descending guitar chords and electronic glitches of ‘Forever (To Feel Like Tonight)’ echo its melancholy narrator “slow-dancing with my feet in the dirt”, while the brooding harmonies of ‘Luna’ conjure peaceful vistas of her native Kildare. Emerging Dublin rapper Kojaque provides production on the EP’s closing track ‘Would You Let Me In’, lending vibey, new-wave hip-hop synths to April’s lilting vocals.
‘Watching You Disappear’, a soulful groove that seduces before stuttering to a close, is the real highlight of ‘Luna’ that truly demonstrates her songwriting potential. For an EP that trades so much on the unknown, one thing is for sure: April Lawlor has star appeal.
Release date: October 30
Record label: Vision