Album Review: Lapsley ‘Long Way Home’
British songstress Holly Lapsley Fletcher a.k.a. Lapsley knows all about multitasking. As a child, she played the oboe, piano, and guitar, eventually finding her own sound through a blend of pop, indie, and electronic influences. Lapsley’s debut album ‘Long Way Home’ is a cluster of expressive electronica, piano, and vocals that bring a tantalising taste of what the future holds for this talented artist.
Opening track Heartless is like a holiday for your imagination – with its echoing bird-like vocal fillers, this track will take you on a three-minute trip to the rainforest, only without the bugs. Tastefully restrained percussion allows warm piano chords to lead the introduction, and throughout the song Lapsley combines her clever Ed Sheeran-style lyrics with her unique Adele-esque vocals. She pulls off a balance of soft and strong with ease and always keeps it mellow.
“Tastefully restrained percussion allows warm piano chords to lead the introduction, and throughout the song Lapsley combines her clever Ed Sheeran-style lyrics with her unique Adele-esque vocals.”
If you need a shot of energy after Heartless, Lapsley’s most popular single Hurt Me is the answer, with a welcome dose of electro pop to see you through until the weekend. Strong hip hop influences and punchy synthesisers (think Snakehips meets Flume) paired with clean vocals and soaring top notes makes for a winning combination.
Falling Short is proof that Lapsley knows just how to balance simple with interesting. With the piano as her canvas, toned-down effects and a killer RnB rhythm are all she needs to create her masterpiece. Her discerning arrangement of elements is the bread and butter on this track: it’s never too much or too little, and she often strips everything down to showcase a moment in the song that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Lapsley sneaks a snippet of the organ with vocal effects into Cliff just before a heavy dose of synth transforms the track into a late-night dance favourite. The swung beat maintains a certain unsteadiness that works perfectly with the complex rhythms in the vocal melody. An estranged harmony-heavy choral beginning allows Lapsley’s voice to catch listeners off guard in Operator. A 70s disco rhythm paired with touches of synth shows off her flair for genre diversity, creating a timeless blend of classic and modern.
“Painter (Valentine) could have just as easily been named Lapsley’s Lullaby. It starts slow and gentle with long held chords, tender vocals, and synth like a xylophone.”
Painter (Valentine) could have just as easily been named Lapsley’s Lullaby. It starts slow and gentle with long held chords, tender vocals, and synth like a xylophone. The song is like a roundtrip journey – the beat builds up to a climax in the middle and strips back again towards the end, finishing in much the same way as it began. The thud of the drum seems out of place at first, but it’s not long before handclaps fill in the gaps and complete the picture.
With its simple piano intro, Tell Me The Truth seems perfect for Sunday afternoon in a jazz club, but synth and vocal effects transform the track into something much more complex. Melancholy chords and plenty of empty space build anticipation, but when the percussion kicks in, suspense is replaced by soulful vocals and deep piano. The electro influence is the final piece of the puzzle, and under its influence the song develops into something much more than the original sweet, innocent tune.
If slow burners are more your style, Station is perfect for you – every note is carefully considered, and strung together they form an intimate composition unlike anything else on the album. The track stands on a foundation of smooth, vibrating synth and ruminating silence. Lapsley adds sound effects, pure vocal fillers, a solid heartbeat rhythm on the drums, and handclaps to fill in the remaining gaps. Then, as soon as the track is complete, it begins to decompose, stripping back to its original synth melody.
“…Seven Months is the perfect way to finish this album, showcasing all of its best elements in one track: an intricate synth rhythm, catchy syncopated beat, and smooth, tender vocals complete with fillers and effects. “
Love Is Blind has all kinds of intricate details that make it different, but still relies on a steady beat, an instantly loveable chord progression and Lapsley’s extensive vocal range to pull it together. The synth and echoes give this track an ethereal and somewhat oriental touch, and the lyrics are an ideal fit: “Pull me close in the sunset/when the light is turned down/Pull me aside, am I ready yet/for the heaviness? It’s getting darker now”.
Glassy synth, a slow drum beat, and the sound of running water makes Leap one of the most relaxing tracks on the album. Lapsley’s distant vocals add to the soft, peaceful atmosphere of the song. Like Heartless, Leap combines glassy synthesisers with tropical rhythms to produce something unique, complete with a brilliant lyrical tagline: “Take a leap, you don’t have to have any faith”. Piano-centric track Seven Months is the perfect way to finish this album, showcasing all of its best elements in one track: an intricate synth rhythm, catchy syncopated beat, and smooth, tender vocals complete with fillers and effects.
‘Long Way Home’ has proven Lapsley to be a versatile and innovative musician. Her career is off to a strong start, and if her impressive debut album is any indication, it’s only the beginning for this promising 19-year-old songstress.