Lou Rhodes - There for the Taking

Dan Round 29/01/2010

Rating: 4/5

Since her 2006 nomination for the Merc-whatever music prize, Lou Rhodes has been really rather busy. Having received widespread acclaim for “Beloved One”, the folkster released her second solo album “Bloom” little over a year later. Rhodes then found time to reform her old trip-hop band Lamb for a series of live dates last year, reliving their late 90s heyday. Now she's back with her third album “One Good Thing” - released 14th March, it is a continuation of the minimalist folk of her previous solo records. “There for the Taking” is the second track on the new album and the first single to be lifted from it.

With “There for the Taking” Rhodes expands upon her soft folk sound, her downbeat acoustic being joined by soothing strings around the 1 min. mark, merging in with the guitar so naturally that they're hard to notice. The strings compliment her already graceful and gentle presence on record. Think Nico's “Chelsea Girl” or Nick Drake's earlyish material; “There for the Taking” builds sublimely from lone-acoustic simplicity to a sweeping and haunting orchestral lament. Rhodes' uses her voice instrumentally too, serene background vocals eerily oozing from the singer - almost ghostlike - giving the song an added melancholy. Rhodes says the string-swarmed song is an ode about acceptance, fate and “trust in the universe”. Magnificently stark and dreamy, “There for the Taking” couldn't be more fitting.

B-side “Falling Down” continues in a similar stripped-down vain, though is more traditional folk in sound (almost Celtic). Accompanied by a single stringed instrument this time around, Rhodes' busy acoustic is perfectly picked, while her vocal is once more strong yet sad. Questioning her own surroundings (first lines - “Am I living in a world turned upside down?/All I believed in has been turned around”), Rhodes begins on a brilliantly fragile lambast on her own circumstances. If “There for the Taking” sees Rhodes trying to accept and trust in fate and everything destiny dishes out, “Falling Down” is the song that sees the resilient singer-songwriter calmly battling against everything around her.

With LP#3 “One Good Thing”, Rhodes has pursued the idea of recording with little in the way of editing and overdubs, citing “the sound of a room rather than a deadened vocal booth” as an important part of her new album's sound. This is completely true of these two new songs, an A-Side and a B-Side that are wonderfully pastoral, natural, and minimalistic. Lou Rhodes' ethereal folk songwriting just seems to go from strength-to-strength with each record. Her Lamb counterparts must be worried that the reunion will be short-lived if Rhodes keeps churning out material of such desolate beauty and depth under her own name.

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