A long time ago, in 2007, three musicians got together and made an album called Lightweights and Gentlemen. Fast forward to 2019 and how far Lau have come from their exceptional debut with their latest offering, Midnight and Closedown. Described by fiddle player Aidan O'Rourke as "Brexit album", the lyrics talk of fear, change and uncertainty in our social and political landscape while the band continues to explore soundscapes that are innovative and musically challenging.
While the album is a mix of songs and instrumentals, it leans more to songs and original lyrics. From the life cycle of salmon in I don't want to die here, through the escapism offered by music in She put on her headphones to the view of life from the bottom of a bottle in Dark Secret, they are pertinent and thought provoking.
Toy Tigers seems to be based on the innocence of childhood. The line "your eyes are still open, never leave that behind" a reminder that as a child everything is viewed with awe and wonder, something we often forget as adults. The fiddle and accordion accompaniment has a slight rocking motion as it alternates between harmonies, enhanced by the effects on the bass line.
Instrumental track Echolalia is a slow burner. Starting with a fiddle led introduction that is reminiscent of unaccompanied Bach, gently underpinned by a rippling guitar accompaniment, the track grows and atmospheric electronics increase the intensity as the fiddle riff increases in speed. This opens out into a more expansive tune with a complex multi-layered texture underneath before retreating back through those layers to a more static close.
It's hard to seem to be ok when you're not is a perfect depiction of modern society, frenetic paddling underwater to appear calm and collected on the surface until you have to stop to catch your breath. The bustling fiddle and accordion accompaniment to Kris Drever's lyrics gives way to a slower, more spacious feel on guitar as the title refrain comes back. This clever contrast in tempo and tone is incredibly effective here and enhances the lyrical content of the track beautifully.
Having spoken of the development of the band from the much more traditional feel of their first album, Riad wouldn't have sounded out of place on that initial offering. However, it fits equally well in the here and now. An acoustic offering, without the electronic wizardry that Lau do so well, this is a reminder of where this band has come from and the phenomenal talent at their fingertips.
Is this folk music? No, it is Lau, a genre all of their own. The sheer quantity of musical genius, technical virtuosity, innovative creativity and clarity of vision that is manifest in this trio means the only limit to their musical ingenuity is their own imaginations. Lau are touring the UK all through February and always put on a fantastic live show. In fact, they possibly need to be seen to be believed!
|Martyn Joseph: Here Come The Young||Harbottle And Jonas: The Sea Is My Brother|
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