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MUSIC Album reviews

Latest releases from David John Morris, Lucy Dacus and Lambchop

David John Morris
Monastic Love Songs
(Hinterground Recordings)
★★★★

 

 

HAVING fronted the criminally unknown Cornish folk group Red River Dialect for five albums, Monastic Love Songs is the debut solo record from David John Morris.

The title refers to the nine-month retreat he went on to a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia where, given permission to acquire a guitar and play it for one hour a day, Morris wrote the Taoism-inspired tracks during the final weeks of his stay.

The organic sound and lyrical ambience don’t stray far from the Red River Dialect modus operandi, which is no bad thing.

His way of creating a sense of urgency is particularly impressive, with the songs and lyrics often building in intensity — check out the REM-citing Purple Gold, apparently inspired by a reacquaintance with a first love.

Infused with a strange and wonderful beauty, Monastic Love Songs is a resplendent set.

Lucy Dacus
Home Video
(Matador)
★★★★

 

 

“BEING back here makes me hot in the face…” As the first line of opener Hot and Heavy suggests, on her third album singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is looking back to her coming of age in Richmond, Virginia.

There are so many good lines: “In the summer of ’07 I was sure I’d go to heaven, but I was hedging my bets at VBS,” she sings on VBS — which I presume stands for Vacation Bible School, Dacus having been raised a Christian.

Another highlight is the heart-stopping Thumbs, the narrator imagining offering to murder the father of a friend.

Her autobiographical and super-smart lyrics and her relatively slick indie-rock are not actually a million miles away from Taylor Swift’s last two records.

Intimate and deeply affecting, Home Video is going to mean a helluva lot to those who invest in it.

 

Lambchop
Showtunes
(City Slang)
★★★★

 

 

LAMBCHOP — the Nashville collective with singer-songwriter Kurt Wagner their constant member — return with another brilliantly enigmatic, understated record.

With his newly acquired skill of MIDI piano-playing forming the set’s central sound, Wagner describes the album as “show tunes for people who don’t like show tunes.”

This is a bit of a red herring — tracks like the glacial ballad A Chef’s Kiss, which brings to mind the outfit’s masterful 2002 album Is A Woman, have seemingly no recognisable connection to the work of Cole Porter or George Gershwin.

And the discombobulating electronica of Unknown Man and Fuku echo Amnesiac-era Radiohead much more than anything that has ever played on Broadway.

One of most consistently innovative bands working today, it’s incredible to think Lambchop were seen as leaders of the relatively conservative alt-country genre in the early 2000s.

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