Lou Rhodes‘ amused, gimlet eyes are the giveaway. She’s on to something, they impute, lifting up and away from the promotional photography, fixing you with a keenness to tell that she is no ordinary chanteuse in pursuit of her fifteen minutes’ worth. Instead, with her fourth album, theyesandeye, Rhodes has built upon a wellspring of creative energy that has seen her move away from the easily embraced genre of electronica into the purer, freer world of folk. It’s a métier that mounts her vocal arrangements in a way that the previous one could never hope to. Eleven concise songs make for a timely return of folk to the mainstream when other musicians of Rhodes’ generation appear divorced from sound musical traditions and forms as they hopelessly cast about for a decent tune.
But as they fail, Rhodes continues to sharpen her blade. Recorded in a rural Wiltshire setting on analogue desks, theyesandeye showcases her musical maturation which is evident in the LP’s melancholic opener, ‘All The Birds’. There’s an expansive approach to the tracks ‘Angels’, ‘Them’, ‘Hope & Glory’, ‘Sun & Moon’ and ‘Full Moon’, which accentuates her distinctive atonal vocalisation.
These are songs of a millennial, existential angst which is evident in satisfyingly arcane lyrics like “Show me how to love without giving every piece of my heart” and “What fool was I to forget the world is round?”. There’s an intellect at work here, which makes for compelling listening in an era when mindless attitudinising continues to beat out fire and skill. As a lyricist whose songs feel their way into the light by way of a tried and tested craft, Rhodes is a woman to watch, her melancholia sure to give way to music of a truly lasting nature.
theyesandeye is out now via Nude Music.