More than any other genre of music, pastoral folk runs the risk of easily fading into the background. It is built around an appreciation for relaxed tempos, and soothing melodies, and it’s easy for a listener to zone out of the listening experience, and simply enter a meditative state. On her new album theyesandeye, Lou Rhodes managed to avoid this pitfall with clever, stylised instrumentation, and intimate songwriting.
All the Birds opens with the sounds of seagulls cawing, before being drowned out by a circular guitar figure, immediately establishing the style of the album: swirling folk with a defined sense of place and purpose. As the track progresses, the mix is filled out with echoing vocal harmonies, gentle percussion, and delicate pianos, but instead of feeling overly busy, the track is lush, and faintly psychedelic, particularly in the creepy, syncopated bass bridge.
A cover of Angels by The xx actually strips the elements down even more than the original (if that were possible). The original’s reverberating guitar is replaced by a close-mic acoustic one, and the percussion is replaced by a faint thump. The only thing filling out the track is a cavernous echo, which enhances the song’s sense of longing and distance.
Sun & Moon is a bit more upbeat, with major-key guitars, and sweet xylophone ornamentation. It’s a short track (under two minutes), but it offsets the sombre ones which surround it. Magic Ride, the closer, feels even more even more intimate than Angels. Rhodes sings of feeling grateful for life – “on this magic ride / and I’m thankful for it all” – which is a sweet note on which to finish the album.
theyesandeye is a strong album, with a distinct aesthetic, merging creative production, with classical folk stylings. The album doesn’t outstay its welcome, barely stretching past 35 minutes, and is perfectly sized for its style and content. It may not be revolutionary, but theyesandeye shows how engrossing folk music can be.