Sophomore album from Lucy Rose sees her musical change direction, is it for the better though?
In 2010 Lucy Rose appeared on the periphery of the UK music scene. After performing backing vocals with Bombay Bicycle Club she got the attention of Columbia Records and slowly started releasing a string of tracks and singles culminating with her debut album Like I Used To in 2012. The influence and comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega were as pronounced as her accent.
She has now returned with her second album Work It Out. While its business as usual, there are some subtle differences going on. Rose recorded her debut album at her parent’s house in Warwickshire. At times it was just her voice and a guitar, so the recordings have an intimate feel to them, almost confessional. This time Rose recorded in Snap Studios with Rich Cooper at the helm. The sound is fuller, and there is more emphasis on a band sound too.
For You opens the album and it plays to Rose’s strengths. Subtle chord changes with a soaring vocal let us know that success hasn’t changed her song writing, she’s still grounded. Musically though it all changed around the two minute mark. From nowhere breakbeats appear and that song sounds like a remix that would have been shoved on a single in 1999 to make it look like you were getting value for money. Sadly this is the formula for the rest of the album. Our Eyes opens with a poor beat and terrible guitar effects. Like an Arrow is a jaunty number, and just when you think it’s going to remain in a twee-indie folk vein, it goes all Leona Lewis. Nebraska is the stand out track as it’s the most honest, but with all its strings, strumming and mournful piano it does little to remove the bad taste of the previous trio of song. Köln has hints of Kings of Leon with the dainty guitar work, and anthemic echoy chorus, however that beat is back and strips all the poetry and passion out of the track. My Life feels like Rose had had enough of being over produced and stripped things back a bit, but it’s a far cry from what made her debut interesting in the first place. The album closes with Into the Wild and it’s just Rose and a guitar for the most part, and the album ends on a nice note. Shame it couldn’t have started on one.
Work It Out shows that Rose has improved as a songwriter and her voice hasn’t lost any of its power or beauty, when she deviates away from an acoustic ballad the message gets slightly lost. While the compositions and production is fine, the inclusion of synthetic beats distracts. Also the music sounds slightly dated, think late 1990’s tender pop and you’re on the right track. Whether it was Rose’s choice at this slight change in direction or ‘management’ will remain to be seen, but whoever made the decision, made the wrong one. All the charm and grace of her debut has been diluted and what we are left with is music that will soundtrack your lunch or shopping experience somewhere gaudy with ideas above its station. Let’s hope the same isn’t true for Rose and she has time to work it out for her next album.