In a BBC interview approximately a year ago, Laura Welsh described her music as “hypnotic… electro soul-pop“. Fast forward a year and what began in nebulae back then has now reached its affirmation. The Staffordshire born singer-songwriter’s debut album, Soft Control, is an assured and confident opus that sees her build on the graft of previous years with bands including Laura and the Tears and Hey Laura.
Now claiming her own as a burgeoning musical force to be reckoned with, Welsh ricochets between big, anthemic pop songs and soulful tracks with abandon. Atmospheric and laced with eerie intrigue, album opener and title track ‘Soft Control’ acts as the perfect introduction to Welsh’s sound. From the piano-led beginning to the husky edge of her emotive voice, Welsh (somehow) manages to float just above the fray of her many contemporaries, and Soft Control, the album, bears notable resemblance to others in searching to carve her own niche. From the ambient diversions of Delilah and the sultry tones of Jessie Ware to the feral wails of Florence (and the Machine) Welch, this Welsh manages to pursue a sonic dalliance that twines all of the above into a sound that is intoxicating.
As the tracks tick over, Welsh takes us on a journey through sensual and euphoric, confident and timid, incorporating interesting sounds into her music which blend into her compositions in a seamless manner. Tracks akin to ‘Soft Control’ – such as ‘Still Life’ and ‘Unravel – click and murmur over Welsh’s smooth vocal, while ‘Breathe Me In’ recalls classic r ‘n’ b. Elsewhere, deftly knowing her way around a commanding chorus, Welsh pivots Soft Control almost unexpectedly into grand and upbeat pop. ‘Break the Fall’ and forthcoming single ‘Ghosts’ bring stomping beats and euphoria into songs that beg to sit snugly on the airwaves and in the charts.
Emotions are at the core of Soft Control, with Welsh’ lyrics certainly being easy to perceive as reactionary to the state of close relations with another (and the struggles it can bring), however, despite the occasional prickly nature or uncertainty that dwells within the songs, there is a tranquility that underpins the entire album. ‘Hardest Part’, Welsh’s duet with soul-star John Legend, avoids being gimmicky, even with the alluring entwining of their majestic voices, while old favourite ‘Cold Front’ loses none of its appeal.
Having sung from the age of 10 and raised in the household of a musician, music is clearly in Welsh’s blood, and as such, her gestation has proved for a self-confident and assured debut. Despite, at times, running the risk of travelling too close to the soundscape of other emerging artists today, Soft Control still plants itself as a strong state of intent, and serves to rightfully reinforce the expectation that rests on her aptitude.