Lucy Kitchen – Sun To My Moon
Bohemia Rose Records – 1 September 2017
When Lucy Kitchen released her debut solo CD, Waves, in 2014, plaudits were many, as were comparisons with Beth Orton, Laura Veirs and, in particular, Sandy Denny. For me, however, early Suzanne Vega was a better match, a theory that still holds water with the release of the Southampton singer-songwriter’s sophomore solo effort Sun To My Moon.
This mesmerising album amply displays Lucy’s talent in crafting haunting, delicate songs, written from the intimate aspect of someone whose vulnerability permeates both the lyrics and often melancholic melodies.
With a more expansive sound than on previous releases, a full band appears on many tracks, with lush string arrangements, courtesy of Marion Fleetwood, pedal steel guitar, a variety of keyboards, including Hammond, and percussion. The production, jointly undertaken by Lucy and her guitarist/bassist on the album, Tali Trow, however, leaves Lucy’s voice firmly front and central, with the instrumental accompaniment complementing, rather than competing with, her vocal performances.
Of the album, Lucy says ‘There’s a theme of loss but how, within that, love somehow pulls us through…a lot of songs on the album have come out of a hard couple of years personally but also within that amazing things have happened as a result.’
Thus Sun To My Moon opens with a track of the same name, (a previous Folk Radio UK song of the day and video premiere), which sets a tone reflecting the above. Articulating a call for a lover, the lyrics are delivered over a delicately picked guitar figure before Searching For Land, with its brooding keyboards and backbeat introduces a jazzy note to proceedings.
A change of style again, as the gentle pedal steel of Stephen Barlow introduces Lovers In Blue, before swirling strings envelope the sound, but always remaining around, rather than over, Lucy’s voice. These lush strings appear again on He Is Lost To Me, which as the song title suggests is another song of loss.
Love And Sorrow sees Lucy’s vocal and guitar accompanied by the cello playing of Marie Smith. One of the stand-out tracks for me, with the cello being the saddest of instruments, its presence here enhances the subject matter exponentially. This may be in contrast with Charis, where the full band sound, including dollops of electric piano and brushed drums, could be the one occasion where less might have been more, sonically.
A feature of this release is the quality of the harmonies. On both Anchor, another cut embellished by pedal steel, and Little Love, with its stripped back accompaniment of guitar and bass, these shine through, adding poignancy to the fragility of the journey being undertaken within the music presented on this outing. They also feature prominently on the ethereal Summer Queen, a song in which the plinking piano notes perhaps would not be out of place in one of Lucy’s other collaborations, working with the drum and bass Technimatic.
‘This is for those who have been lost. And the ones who loved us through the lost times.’ States Lucy in the sleeve notes.
These are strong and striking songs, delivered with both fragility and conviction, which deserve to be heard. Given their overall timbre and often lachrymal nature, this would probably best be undertaken in a quietly contemplative setting.
A gorgeous, atmospheric offering.
Out now on Bohemia Rose Records and available here: https://lucykitchen.bandcamp.com/album/sun-to-my-moon