The musician has swapped pop hooks for ethereal, jazz-laced instrumentation, resulting in an often bleak listen. Luckily, lyrically, she's at her best
In 2012, Lucy Rose released her debut album ‘Like I Used To’ – the musical equivalent of a warm bowl of soup on an autumn’s day, it was stuffed with lovingly crafted indie-folk laced with pop sensibilities. Since then Rose has released two more albums: ‘Work It Out’, which embraced fuller production and radio-ready hooks, and ‘Something’s Changing’, which saw Rose walk away from her major label deal and enter a new partnership with Communion.
‘No Words Left’ is Rose’s second full-length album away from a major label. She’s said it was written during one of the hardest times of her life” and, indeed, gone are the pop licks and earworm choruses, replaced with ethereal, crunchy melodies and jazz-laced instrumentation. Her poised vocals have been given a Joni Mitchell-esque makeover, which sees them hop up and down between rich low notes and vibrato laced higher register, sounding the strongest they ever have.
There are some moments of pure bliss on the album. ‘Solo(w)’ is a stunning slowburn. Opening with elegant piano chords, gradually lush strings and a fluid saxophone line, which envelops Rose’s voice, it’s nothing short of remarkable. ‘Treat Me Like A Woman’ is similarly outstanding. A brutally honest account of how it feels to have people not take you seriously because you’re a woman (“And you treat me like a fool / Or do you treat me like a woman? / Make me feel so small/ Well, is that what I’m good for?”), this is Lucy Rose’s battle cry.
However, a handful of powerful, mature songs can only carry the record so far. At times, the stripped-back guitar and maudlin strings are unbearably bleak. Musically, ‘The Confines Of This World’ fails to pack as much as a punch as its emotive lyrics, while mid-album instrumental ‘Just A Moment’ disrupts the record’s flow.
Lyrically, this is the best Rose has ever been. Poignant, affecting and candid, at times it’s spectacular. Yet the music fails to reach the same heights, resulting in a mismatched record. Sometimes excellent, sometimes uninvitingly dreary, ‘No Words Left’ is an ordinary album from a musician who could be truly extraordinary.
Release Date: 22 March
Label: Communion Records