fri 19/07/2024

CD: Lucy Rose - No Words Left | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lucy Rose - No Words Left

CD: Lucy Rose - No Words Left

Stark and intimate songs, but there's light at the end of this tunnel

An album for the loneliest of sleepless nights

Every so often, an album reminds you that, done properly, the art form is more than just a collection of songs. Barely 35 minutes in length, Lucy Rose’s fourth release No Words Left is a beautifully sequenced work in a time when track listings have come to mean little; its songs, and the spaces between them, something of a late-night reverie.

Rose describes the album as emerging from a particularly difficult period in her life, but rarely has a dark night of the soul ultimately sounded so uplifting.

This is an album for the loneliest of sleepless nights – ironic, really, for one that opens with a track called “Conversation”. Realisation crystallises, quietly, over a gently unsettling melody, that the only conversation here is in the songwriter’s head, her vocals low and introspective as she rehearses her lines for the “no-one” who “lets me down like you do” with her guitar in the mirror. Make no mistake: these are stark and intimate songs, even those that tackle outward-facing themes like music industry sexism (“Treat Me Like a Woman”) or falling out of love with a city (“Confines of this World”).

That intimacy has much to do with Rose’s creative choices. Recorded in Brighton, at the home studio of producer Tim Bidwell – with whom Rose worked on Something’s Changing, the 2017 album for which she left a major label – the album nixes drums, instead letting Rose’s vocal lead on rhythm. That’s not to suggest this is a sonically simple record: on the contrary, the sparse piano opening of “Solo(w)” swells into unexpected lushness, strings and saxophone wrapping themselves around Rose’s gorgeous vocal and doing the heavy lifting of the song title’s dual meaning; while penultimate track “Pt 2” ends with Rose rediscovering herself in an almost primal wail.

The light begins to seep through on “Just a Moment”, a mid-album instrumental that sounds like the dawn with soft, gentle guitar, tape hiss and the creaks and scratches of a stirring world. “Nobody Comes Round Here” and “Save Me from your Kindness” put up lyrical barriers but the warmth of Rose’s piano, on the former, and vocal, on the latter, begin a process of melting that, by the album’s closing moments, becomes a full-on thaw. “She’s singing song after song after song, all about me and my misery,” Rose sings in a pep talk to herself, and the sun’s already rising.

Below: watch Lucy Rose perform "Solo(w)"

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