Lucy Rose’s fourth album ‘No Words Left’ is the rush of pent-up aggression that comes when the straw that broke the camel’s back finally unleashes a flood of retribution, set to music. After a decade in the music industry, Rose is mad as hell and she isn’t going to take it anymore, and rightly so.
‘No Words Left’ attacks all the things that Rose finds difficult to tackle in normal conversation. All the things that would see her being accused of being emotional if she raised them in public.
But while ‘No Words Left’ is emotive, it certainly isn’t emotional, on the contrary, it is meticulously calculated, pointed and piercing in its brutal honesty.
“It’s just really wound me up over time. It makes me feel small,” she told The Line Of Best Fit in a recent interview, referring to the casual sexism she endures when people ask her husband (and tour manager) questions about her career as if she isn’t in the room. “People frequently assume that they need to talk to him…‘Do you think Lucy will play this?’ whilst I’m sitting at the table. He’s like, ‘Why are you asking me?” These frequent slights are the fuel under which ‘No Words Left’ rages.
An unplanned affair, the album is born literally of burnout. Rose pulled out of supporting Passenger after a week due to experiencing severe isolation and loneliness. Unexpectedly finding herself at home at her piano, the weight of the tumultuous time unloaded itself in song, the format allowing her to process these deep-seethed emotions.
This cathartic process unlocked a striking vein of songwriting much rawer and brutal than anything Rose has conjured up previously. This different approach to songwriting also required a new approach to recording which afforded Rose the opportunity to vanquish one of her musical pet hates, drums.
The lack of drums throughout the 11 tracks (there is the odd touch of percussion here and there) gives the album a spacious, freewheeling atmosphere which it would otherwise not have possessed. Freed from the restriction of Dr Beat, Rose fills the void with a wide array of sounds which give ‘No Words Left’ a timeless quality with echoes of Pink Floyd and Scott Walker in places. Her disdain for drummers is curious considering her previous album ‘Something’s Changed’ was given a full remix treatment.
Due to this unusual rendering, many of the songs feel like private conversations or diary entries set to music. Solo (w), which exists in a jazzy haze of piano and brass, is the type of song which could easily be the emotional centrepiece of a Broadway musical such is its palpability.
The Confines Of The World recounts the height of Rose’s isolation with aplomb, as she realises that her victories and failures should be her own, that making other people happy won’t fulfil her own needs. While Treat Me Like A Woman takes on sexism from the end of her tether. “And I’m afraid and I’m scared and I’m terrified. That these things won’t ever change. For all of my life.”
Even at its most boisterous, there is an undercurrent of low self-esteem that permeates ‘No Words Left’, but if Lucy Rose is in search of validation, she should look no further than listening to ‘No Words Left’ – the finest and most honest collection of songs she’s penned to date.
The accompanying film adds an extra dimension to the angst contained within ‘No Words Left’ and is well worth a watch.
Lucy Rose plays Liberty Hall Theatre on April 14th. Tickets €25.00.