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Lil' Lost Lou Lil' Lost Lou
Album: Lil' Lost Lou
Label: Bully
Tracks: 11

"She's like the girlfriend of Jonathan Richman, the sister of the Stanley Brothers and the daughter of Jack White"…so says the accompanying press release without a hint of irony, and it's not until you're 4 songs into the album that you realise the PR machine has actually got this one pretty much nailed on! The debut album from Lil' Lost Lou (London-based country / rockabilly songwriter Lou Psyche) is one of those rare finds, like finding a £20 note behind the back of your old sofa. You don't expect anything but by the end there's a big old smile on yer face!

Lou has done a very brave thing - she travelled all on her lonesome to Nashville to record this album, and record this album she most certainly did - in 12 hours flat! And that my friends is why this lil' gem has all the rough edges tactfully left in place for all to hear, and another reason why analogue always wins out in the aural battle. There are no singing in fake American accents here - Lou is all laaandaan-baby, and the album feels so much fresher and original for that purity. It seeps through every groove of every song.

Opener "The Boy From The City And The Girl From Camden Town" is a great way to kick out the jams, with it's easy country blues shuffle easing the listener in to Lil Lost Lou's slightly skewed big city country music vision, where lyrically all is not as it first appears and musically there's a mass of ideas floating just beneath the surface giving a full and beautifully ragged feel around the edges. Just as it should be to these ears!

"I Kissed Your Man (Jolene)" respectfully touches the hand of god(ess), with it's angular pedal steel allied to a wonderfully frayed quasi-rockabilly beat and rambunctious harp and "This Is The End" reveals the controlled chaos that brings together Lou's unique voice that teeters on the edge of fra-gility but with a sassy wink of the eye as if to brook no argument. Overdriven guitar and distorted pedal steel explode to create a kind of psych(e)-country mood.

Elsewhere it's the sheer effortless creation of a truly English flavoured americana collection that really impresses - "One and One Makes Two", "Bad Boy" and "Red Is The Colour Of My Shame" all recall halcyon days that maybe weren't all that they seemed and are the standard fodder for all great country tunes that dictate that you gotta have your heartbroken at least half a dozen times - and here Lou turns it to her advantage as she's got some great songs out of it!

This self-titled debut is certainly not what I expected - hell I didn't know what I expected! But what you have here with "Lil' Lost Lou" is an album that sounds like the musicians had a real blast making it. There's a real "live" feel to the tunes which harken back to the 50's when songs were recorded in one and two takes and when "mistakes" were all part of the appeal and authenticity of the songs. Sam Phillips built an empire on that philosophy, and that's what is continued on this album. It's courageous. It's refreshing. It works.

Ken Brown