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Miranda Lee Richards Miranda Lee Richards
Album: Existential Beast
Label: Invisible Hands
Tracks: 10

The fourth studio album from Richards is something of a rarity, a political album that never ceases to be inclusive, tackling taboo subjects with poetry and sincerity. It also represents a swift follow up to the acclaimed 2016 release Echoes Of The Dreamtime, after a 7 year and 8 year gap between her first and third records. The title is a mixture of society's current existential crisis, and the beast is the symbol of our lower animal instincts.

It opens with Ashes And Seeds, which is a 70's infused country track with a very relevant message for today; history repeats and repeats. It's a gentle and poetic song, but with a darker vein that appears to grow the more you listen to it. It's a strong opening and one of the highlights. While most of the record continues in this gentle, dreamy and almost languid mould, there are a couple of more up tempo tracks; The Wildwood and On The Outside Of Heaven. The latter in particular is a fabulous slice of 70s rock with just a hint of Sheryl Crow.

Lucid I Would Dream has garnered a fair amount of attention, and it's easy to see why. Lauren Laverne picked it as "headphone moment" on her BBC 6 Music show earlier in the year. It's hard to disagree. It's the kind of track you can crank the volume up on, lie back, and allow the melody to embrace you and carry off somewhere beautiful.

There are other songs of divine beauty to be found to be found throughout - Autumn Sun with its haunting strings, as well as Back To The Source and Oh Raven with their classical folk sound. The title track itself is ethereal and melancholic, and perfectly encapsulates the themes of the record. It ends with Another World, perhaps the most overtly political song, which undulates softly along for almost 12 minutes.

Richards is clearly enjoying something of a purple patch in her solo career, and if this is the result, long may it continue.

Adam Jenkins