We’ve been dealing with a lot of quality music lately and this week has been zenith of that with a handful of strong releases. This really screws me up considering I still have Santigold’s 99¢ and Foxes’ All I Need on rotation, oh the complications of life! My ears pulling me in so many different directions I can’t handle it. All the albums I want to listen to offer and compliment completely different feelings. Ray LaMontagne might have my favorite album of the year thus far (though it’s too soon to tell), Esperanza Spalding has delivered a beautifully complex record that my ears will continue to digest for months to come, and Låpsley has hit me with an impeccable debut (which you'll learn about below). Add to that Kendrick Lamar’s b-sides release and Bas’ sophomore effort and you’ve got a music fan who is spread pretty thin. Did I mention we’ve also got new grooves from Miike Snow and The Knocks?! NO I DID NOT! GOODNESS GRACIOUS. I'm overwhelmed. Let’s just talk about Låpsley. Can we please do that? Thank you.
In 2013, Holly Låpsley Fletcher recorded an EP in her bedroom. Entitled Monday, the EP garnered quite a following landing her a few big time gigs (she played at Glastonbury in 2014!) and some quality radio play from the always on point BBC Radio 1. Later in 2014 she signed with XL Recordings and released her second EP, Understudy, a few months later. This EP is what would give her some international cred after the single “Falling Short” took off. She then used the next year to create and record her debut LP which brings us to Long Way Home.
I know I know, I went about that in a very matter-o-fact way. I just want the focus to be on Long Way Home because it’s the real deal. So often, when I hear EPs that show tons of potential, I wonder how the artist will tackle their full length. Will they try and duplicate their previous work? Attempt a new direction? Curse themselves with over production? It’s rare that a debut will fully live up to the potential even if the execution is there. That’s not to say they aren’t good, they’re just not great. The most common infraction is trying to do too much. In trying to give us all of themselves the album can lose its identity musically, never committing to a specific direction. I’m happy to report that that is not the case here! Låpsley has delivered on every level with her debut. She’s clearly grown as an artist yet still represents the same vibe. Her approach here is clear and she keeps things tight at 12 songs. The flow is perfect, creating a serene atmosphere to exist in and enjoy. She has that sound that you never want to end and it works on multiple levels. Whether it’s the main focus or background music, it represents the mood fittingly. On the surface it could be considered simple, from a production standpoint, but it’s calculated in its simplicity and that precision paints a much more elaborate picture. It's extremely impressive. Though its presentation comes across as methodical, Long Way Home unfolds in a very natural way, never dragging or making you feel rushed. The excellent opening track, “Heartless,” is the perfect representation of this. It has the tone of a ballad with the presentation in the electro R&B realm. It’s sexy, smooth, and light in its delivery but carries weight in its emotion. The album has endless listening potential; whether it’s the disco infused “Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)” or the beautiful ballad “Station,” each song is worth your time. She has to be extremely pleased with the result here. Working with some spectacular producers didn’t hurt either; teaming with the incredible Rodaidh McDonald again (he produced her Understudy EP) for the majority, but also receiving help from Mura Masa (responsible for 2015’s excellent Someday Somewhere) and Paul O’ Duffy for a few tracks. This is one of the better debuts I’ve heard in some time and I excited to hear what else it offers me over the next few months.