Download New Album: Kelsey Lu – Blood
Kelsey Lu comes through with a brand new smashing hot and dope studio album, packed with 13 amazing and solid tracks entitled “Blood“. A softness permeates the music of classically trained cellist and songwriter Kelsey Lu. Not the softness of background muzak or meditative introspection, but a concentrated, purposeful mood – one teased out by billowing melodies, bowed beneath her crystalline vocals.
After dropping out of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and moving to New York to record her one-take debut EP, Church, in 2016, there has been a buzz of anticipation surrounding Lu’s compositions. Where Church seemed to absorb its ecclesiastical surroundings in the eerie, incantatory feel of her solo playing – looped to surround her vocals – the arrival of her debut LP marks Lu out as a formidable singer and songwriter, as much as a composer.
The clarity of her vocal lines on Atlantic and Rebel bring to mind Lu’s previous collaborator Solange, while the influence of another – Blood Orange – is felt in the off-kilter folk strings of Pushin Against the Wind.
Yet Lu transcends collaborator status, moving into fully fledged pop-auteur territory on Due West, while seamlessly swerving into the confessional realm on Why Knock for You.
Blood is an enticingly restrained debut, showing a consistency of tone without compromising on Lu’s inventiveness. She hints at a wider orchestration in her compositions, bringing in sweeping strings or rumblings of percussion while never pushing them into a maximal blast. The balance lends her softness the punchiness that makes Blood so captivating. In the early stages of producing this, her debut album, cellist and vocalist Kelsey Lu described the record as a recognition of the pain in the darker side of life, and finding the strength to move through it. ‘Blood’, even as it explores complicated themes of life and death – of what’s to come and what’s not to come – is simple in its tranquil delivery.
Breaking out as a solo artist with 2016 EP ‘Church’, 28-year-old Lu has since established herself as a prolific collaborator, working with the likes of Solange and Florence + the Machine, and so it’s no surprise to find names such as Jamie xx and Skrillex on the list of contributors on ‘Blood’.
But what makes the alt-classical talent really worth listening to, aside from the names on this record, is her ability to hook listeners from the album’s opening notes. Starting strong with the suspenseful sonics of ‘Rebel’, Kelsey’s husky and bold vocals and poetic lyrics make for an arresting opening.
‘Church’ introduced Kelsey Lu as a connoisseur of billowing cello ballads that combine glacial, quiet soundscapes with a searing voice. And this record takes her authentic musical styling further, using haunting, yet comforting tones throughout. With the foreboding ‘Pushin Against The Wind’, the brooding ‘Too Much’ or the soaring instrumentals of ‘Kindred I’ and ‘KIindred II’, the whole album is like an evocative moodboard. The upbeat ‘Due West’, with its shape-shifting sounds courtesy of producer Skrillex, is a contender for standout track, as is ‘I’m Not In Love’, with its swirling, psychedelic instrumentals.
Yet there’s a lack of focus that keeps this from being a truly great record. ‘Foreign Car’, featuring Jamie xx, jars and is without a real sonic direction; ‘Atlantic’ and the title track ‘Blood’ use poetic lyricism, but they fail to make much of an a impact with forgettable soundscapes. Meanwhile, the poppy ‘Poor Fake’ is a mixed bag that epitomises the whole album in that it’s uneven, with flashes of brilliance.
‘Blood’ is a record that builds slow and steady, as it continually keeps you on your toes with its experimental and exploratory nature. You don’t know what to expect next – from the record, and the young talent herself, but what appears certain is that it’ll be worth joining on her journey. This is the kind of song(s) you wouldn’t want to miss on your playlist.
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