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Album Review: Paula Cole – Lo

2 min read

The latest release from Paula Cole, Lo, is a self-produced 11 track album featuring a range of well-respected musicians – including Jay Bellerose, Ross Gallagher, and Chris Bruce Hinman. The record was recorded live at The Village recording studio in Los Angeles by nine time Grammy-winning engineer, Mike Piersante.

Initial track, Follow The Moon, is a journey through the artist’s inner world. The strong and introspective lyrics are set against a collective, mystical backdrop. The artist ruminates between soft howls, strings, and gentle percussion: “Seeking the way, I feel religion but I do not follow the rules / The way some folks, they follow the rules / Seeking the truth, like a paper airplane coasting on a whisper”.

Replacements & Dinosaur Jr is a heartfelt tribute to Paula’s friend and artistic mentor, Mark Hutchins, who passed away at the age of 51. The song pays homage to Hutchins’ musical influences, including The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr., and The Beatles. Invisible Armour is a percussive track with a gentle, swooning melody and impressive vocals. The artist’s voice maintains a Joni Mitchell-esque quality, but she embraces traditional pop-ballad form. The chorus: ‘My invisible armor’ is penetrating and relatable.

Green Eyes Crying has a gentler pace. The chorus is understated but effective: “‘Green eyes crying, green eyes crying!” The artist doesn’t shy away from her writer’s instincts –  with poignant and honest lyricism: “I am losing, between my life and love / All I hold dear is challenged by a choice / To lay naked, at the altar of another / Or stay the steady plough of work / The stoic solitude”. Letter From a Quarry Miner tells a story of an out-of-work miner from the 1940s. The song has a theatrical quality, revealing the narrative against a backdrop of old-timey, country music tropes and rattles. Letter From a Quarry Miner could almost be a Nick Cave song.

The penultimate track on the album Wildflower is one of my favorites. Highly reminiscent of some of her earlier work, the track has a 90s style and breaks into powerful, raw vocals. The track’s nostalgic quality is sure to delight her core fan base.

At 55, Paula Cole hasn’t lost her ability to move souls. Her analog-centric approach to production bears serious musical fruits. There’s an energy to the album, Lo, which revives a wayward, collaborative spirit – expressed in collective musical landscapes. That’s not to forget the artist’s heart-wrenching vocals and unafraid lyricism.