Folk in the UK is a bit of an odd one, isn’t it? Either there’s that twee chart-baiting stuff, or the stuff so far removed from everything it replaces lyrics with a tambourine or some shit. So it’s always nice to have a solo album from Lou Rhodes, a woman who uses her background in a band like Lamb and often bridges two sensibilities to create a world of finely-crafted maturity.
That’s very much the case from the very opening of theyesandeye. Sure, the subject matter of All The Birds is very tick-box one for the genre, but it unfurls with such rich pastoral texture that it’s hard not to immediately find yourself wandering through this happy world she creates. The vocals are gravelled but clear, with the second track All I Need once again aching with a tremendous and simple performance from Rhodes to the bed of charming acoustica (and gorgeous backing vocals).
Then comes the curveball. In an age where every other song gets the flaccid John Lewis treatment, it’s easy to dismiss a cover of The xx‘s Angels as one massive eye-roll before you’ve heard it. But in the hands of Rhodes it takes on a different depth, hushed and almost mournful as the lightest of harps punctuates the yearn.
By the time Them comes along, we’re all but putty in her hands. The strings that swirl around it are emotional and irresistible, while the “show me how to love” refrain of Hope And Glory is a victory of straightforward songwriting. So while Lou Rhodes’ canvas may be seeped in the green we expect, the shades she adds to theyesandeye make for some truly wonderful, relaxed listening, an oasis that’s quite hard to find these days. Say yes to this one.