For Everyone is from somewhere else, Lowri Evans‘ third album, the singer/songwriter has delegated the production duties she’d previously carried out herself to Mason Neely (Cerys Matthews, Sufjan Stevens, Lambchop) as well as introducing a different approach to her writing in the form of collaborations with Sam Genders, Henry Priestman and Pete Riley on some of the songs.
The first song, ‘Don’t know why’, demonstrates the success of this new approach to recording with a much bigger sound than before; polished and confident, its relaxed pop sensibilities shine through while still foregrounding Lowri’s honey-sweet voice. Carried along on a steady rhythm of double bass and minimal drums, with a discreet yet effective string arrangement working with some lovely harmony vocals, it’s a strong but subtle opener. The gently rolling radio-friendly ‘Everyone is from somewhere else’ further develops the sound, adding some Latin-tinged percussion to the mix and a lyric which runs deeper than it seems on first listen.
‘Who’s loving you tonight?’ introduces a retro rock’n’roll feel with vocals sounding like they were recorded in the original Sun Studios while Lee Mason’s twangy, overdriven lead guitar perfectly complements the lyrical theme of confronting an ex-lover and is a highlight of the album.
Lowri’s three compositional collaborations follow on and, taken together, form an intriguing centrepiece to the album, beginning with ‘Piece of me’ – co-written with Henry Priestman (The Christians) – a delicately arranged and performed reflection on living alone with some lush harmonies interwoven with a fluttering string section over some nice chord changes. ‘Wanted heart’ is the second writing collaboration, this time with Sam Genders (Tunng, Diagrams); over a heavily-reverbed fingerstyle electric guitar and spacious rhythm section, Lowri sings the plaintive lyric with an emotive power that is quite breathtaking and it’s the highlight of the album. A performance that strong was always going to be tough to follow, but the writing combination of Pete Riley (Edwin McCain, Amy Wadge) more than rises to the challenge with ‘Stars’. An introspective, country-tinged acoustic number, it’s both tender and touching with Lowri’s distinctively wistful voice conveying a genuine sense of hope.
The downtempo ballad ‘Somebody’s girl’ describes the pain of loneliness; its introspection is framed by a sensitive arrangement featuring some exquisite lead guitar. Lowri’s skill as a lyricist is evident throughout the album and ‘Seventeen’ is a fine example. Inspired by events of World War One, its sparse, folky arrangement spotlights the heartbreaking tale of the way in which a teenage couple’s lives are shattered by conflict and Lowri’s singing beautifully conveys the maelstrom of emotions of the subject.
‘Rolling on’ lifts the mood with an open, breezy arrangement underpinned by an endlessly moving bass and some well-placed piano. Over some intricate guitar and backed by gorgeous harmonies, Lowri muses on the apparent inevitability of heartache, tempered with hope that the future will bring happier times.
The lilting minor key ‘We were in love’ finds Lowri delving into a quite bluesy/jazzy style of singing, and she does it with panache and flair. The result is definitely ‘more-ish’ and it’s to be hoped that it’s a direction she’ll explore further in future recordings. The album rounds out with a short instrumental coda revisiting the title track; it’s a nice touch and eases the listener gently back to the ground.
Everyone is from somewhere else is a real leap forward in Lowri’s musical development; sophisticated yet accessible, Lowri’s sublime vocals are still very much at the heart of it, while Mason Neely’s production brings out some very listenable nuances in her performance. The result is an assured and beautifully realised collection of songs which will undoubtedly appeal to existing fans and newcomers alike and has all the makings of being a significant and well-deserved crossover success.
Everyone is from somewhere else is out now via Osmosys
20 May – Llangwm Rugby Club, Pembrokeshire
03 June – The Big Comfy Bookshop Folk Club, Coventry, 7pm
17 June – Clwb Nos Wener, Talybont, Ceredigion, 7.30pm
25 June – Union Music Store session, Lewes, 3pm
25 June – Union at the Con Club, Lewes, with Wild Ponies, 7.30pm