Lotte Mullan has a new four track EP, Claw Marks, on the horizon, due for release on the 26th May in the lead up to the release of her next full length album later in the year. Here’s a nice exclusive for you with a premiere of the track (also our Song of the Day) I Hope It Breaks Your Heart with our featured video and audio stream. It suggests a darker tone to be expected for the album, which comes on the back of two years solid touring. We think it’s a very promising taster.
I was fortunate enough to catch up Lotte who answered a couple of question and also had the chance to see her perform live. The new release was recorded in Nashville and Lotte reveals, “I’ve always hankered after Nashville, it’s a combination of the cowboy fantasy and a love of country music (and wings ‘n’ ribs!). The story telling approach to songwriting is the strongest pull for me. The human condition is at the heart of it all which never fails to move me.”
Lotte confirms it lived up to expectations, telling me, “Oh yes. The air rings with music, on every corner there’s the best band you ever heard and your taxi driver is a better songwriter than you will ever be! The community aspect is wonderful too, music feels like much more of a shared experience than in London.”
Lotte recorded with Band Of Horses and is clearly thrilled with the whole process as she admits, “ It was so much fun playing with hairy rock musicians! They were so into referencing all the British stuff too… My love of Willie Nelson and the Velvet Underground fused with their obsession with the smiths and the clash – it was a right old transatlantic mash up! It was cool to step outside of the more singer-songwriter approach to making a record. The textures and punk attitude allowed for painting a darker picture which really told the story of the songs. I stayed at Bill’s house the whole time (Bill Reynolds – BOH bass player & producer). The guys were wonderful and had relentless passion and enthusiasm, it was a real inspiration. I’d go back in a heartbeat.”
The gig is a short set at a showcase in London’s Dean Street at The Society Of The Golden Slippers, one of those rarefied events that puts the artist into an intimate setting, within touching distance in this case, even from the back of the room. The regular evening has a reputation for an interesting billing and some real star names have passed through, yet the policy seems to be one of equanimity with all acts on an even footing. As if to emphasise the point, our host Sophia Blackwell, gives Lotte a build up that packs more into a minute than seems feasible, but is very well informed.
The first of Lotte’s song is I Don’t Believe You. It’s just her, without her new found compadres and a very desirable looking Gibson acoustic guitar, but the song already sounds like a country standard in the making. The simplicity of the structure is matched by an elegant economy of phrase that delivers lines like, “You say you love me like a curse.” The chorus goes something like, “We are enemies and the best of friends, our favourite part is making up again.”
Of the second song, You Must Have Loved Him Once, Lotte tells us is for her crazy parents. She confides, “I used to despair of them and all that went on, but know I’m rather grateful for all of the weirdness.” Tellingly perhaps she adds, “I’ve taken the liberty of putting them together, although they’ve not been in the same room as each other for years.” It contains yet another peach of a line in, “You were god ’til I was seven, then we just fell out of heaven.”
Our featured Song of Day is next up, so needs no explanation from me, but is followed by Love Wins, a new song. Another lyrical gem appears with, “Love hurts we all know the rhyme, but love still wins every time.” Then there’s a song based around a comment her mother made about experiencing the menopause and feeling invisible, which becomes a surprisingly tender love song called I’m Still Here. The final song of this brief set is Valentine. Lotte introduces it as a last minute gift to make up for a lack of card, although the simple waltz time once more serves as a means to deliver a cracking tune and another great couplet or two.
Lotte’s voice has just a hint of a tremor, nothing overcooked or distracting, but something that gives an extra frisson to some of her clever words and gorgeous song-craft. Melodically she may borrow heavily from country, but if you ever need a poster girl for the power and efficacy of a simple three or four chord as all you ever need, then Lotte may just fit the bill. More than anything, she has the knack of writing lines that go as straight to the heart as the threads of her bootlace tie.
As we grab a five minute chat post set, she reveals one of those moments of pure chance. Telling me she’s been looking at the website, she explains she is very happy to be following Henry Priestman as our Song Of The Day, as it seems the last song is a co-write between the two of them and they are firm friends. As small as the setting for tonight’s gig has been, it seems the world is even smaller.
Review by: Simon Holland
May 16th, Birmingham, Glee club
May 17th, Derbyshire, Cromford Mills
May 23rd, London, Portico Gallery
June 14th/15th, Isle of Wight Festival
July 5th, Oxfordshire, Cornbury festival
Lotte Mullan EP: ‘Claw Marks’ out May 26th