Frivolous Laura - A Lullaby

Bill Cummings 03/04/2009

Rating: 3.5/5

After watching Frivolous Laura perform at a local Peppermint Patti night in Cardiff someone told me: 'She was fascinating - like watching a young Kate Bush' - so sizeable interested peaked, I wanted to hear her for myself. On first listen, consider me mildly impressed. Far from the self-indulgently carefree connotations of her chosen moniker, Welsh born, London-based artist Frivolous Laura delivers an enigmatic slice of piano pop with her debut single A Lullaby. Beguiling, and cinematic, initially building from shy piano motif to evocative vocals that literally lead you down the garden path and into dark wooded, unsettling, twisted fairytale (sample lyric: 'Beware of the wolf that has yet to be fed/he is looking to feast and will eat you instead.') Sounding like the alternative soundtrack to Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, its prettiness disguises a sinister underbelly, ebbing and flowing with the subtle majesty of an older performer. A Lullaby is artistically redolent of the twinkling darkness of one Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls) or the classical-meets-pop melodies of a one-off like Tori Amos.

In contrast to the lead track, Little Baby is almost minimalist jazz and initially sounds uncomfortably like its losing its way, the piano motif relaxes to a random tinkle, a bell rings off in the distance and Laura's vocals sound like they're echoing up from the bottom of the well as she tries gamely to subvert the classic Gerswin piece Summertime in its verses. The sound of everything falling apart with twitching introspection and sparse instrumentation, it lacks the cohesiveness of the opener it's rather more the experimental B-side territory that you would expect from a relatively nascent artist.

That the last three tracks The Workers Interlude , The Work Song, The Workers' Lament are like three pieces of the same pie, instrumental piano pieces with classical and 1920s undertones. They blend into each other so much that it becomes harder and harder to judge them or even to distinguish them as different pieces.

Still, there's much to admire here, and a certain promise about this single, from a talented female performer who clearly knows how to weave deceptively pretty pictures whilst staring longingly into the looking glass of the past. Don't have nightmares now.