She Makes War finds peace during Direction of Travel

Direction of TravelThe album artwork for She Makes War’s third album is like a blend of Howl’s Moving Castle, a floating iceberg and mini-city set against a stormy sky. There is a lighthouse, a wooden flight deck and the prow of a Viking ship. These are all super cool things that hint at the richly dramatic layers to discover beneath this cover.

Direction of Travel is dark musically and lyrically, but is undoubtedly triumphant. In the same way a phoenix must go down in flames in order to be flamboyantly reborn; darkness and light are complimentary. The opening of the album gallops away with rolling drums and heavy guitars, but they gradually recede to be replaced by the acoustic calm of the ukulele and cello. Laura Kidd has the vocal talent, alongside some guest appearances, to cover the range from rock chick to vulnerable honesty.

Remarkably, lead single "Drown Me Out" and follow up "Paper Thin" coexist quite happily within four tracks of one another. The former epitomising the loud and brash, with the later providing the restful side to the record. In some ways they are companion pieces as the distress of floundering under the water is countered by the self-medicating solace and strength found in accepting a weakness and using it to rise above danger. In a section (which doesn’t sound as poetic on paper as on "Drown Me Out" proper) she sings, “And you throw in a rope, ‘Cause your victim is overboard, But I’m looking for something wonderful, To keep me in this lifeboat." Kidd is very aware of how to control the syllables in her lyrics as “overboard” and “lifeboat” are drawn out and animated to create a greater effect than the simple words suggest. That 'something wonderful' is found frequently throughout the album, perhaps more often within herself than in the rope-throwing roguish figure of "Drown It Out".

The visceral imagery, peaking with the vampiric "Slow Down Sunshine" marks out the Bristol multi-instrumentalist as possessing a passionate bite in both word and style. Ironically for a blood-stained album though, it is its tender heart that allows it to stand out as more than a merely ‘up and down’ gothic teen emotional experience. Signing off with "The Best" and the parting words, “Goodnight sweet friend” and, “Sweetheart drink up, Be all you dreamed of”  they are just unpretentiously lovely.

It’s her best work to date, painting a detailed, brooding and atmospheric landscape.

Release: 8th April 2016, The state51 Conspiracy


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