One of the worst slights one can give Låpsley is to call her Adele 2.0. For one, this York artist has not reigned apocalyptic hells on the music industry by gaining praise that other less popular artists deserve–at least not yet. And secondly, Lapsley plays things way too safely, with all too clean instruments ruining next to all emotional depth for her. But the artist doesn’t play for the mainstream, settling her ground on an R&B and Electronic mix that is nearly on the precipice of indie. Like her album title suggests, Long Way Home still has a lot of travelling to do in order to reach her destination. By a lot of travel, I mean that she’s barely stepped out of the apartment she only calls a house.
Låpsley’s shortcomings stem from more than her inability to reach high vocal ranges. It’s a mood she wants to convey, not the sensation that she’ll blow houses down after a shout. Her softness matches the feathery piano keys she plays, sometimes ruining her shining presence by warping her vocal tones. Long Way Home fails to impress when its slow tempo has nothing worthwhile guiding it. She becomes lounge music for hair stylists wanting something casual to shave those going balding. Several songs become folly to those wanting relaxing tunes in the office space. She brings comfort, but at the expense of not resonating lyrically, vocally, or instrumentally.
The lacking of vocal power handicaps the artist, making her choose vocal shifts that change her tone in a manner that’s fitting for a trip-hop beat. Yet the moments where her clean voice does strike emotional ground are the ones where there’s potential in Låpsley, one seemingly hidden under the decisions of who she wants to be (“Hurt Me,” “Falling Short”). However, the true faults of the record show when there’s no emotional investment in her voice, instead relying on the dark, aqueous electronics to take listeners on a trip that eventually runs into nowhere (“Cliff”). It’s also sad to acknowledge when her lyrics reference wanting to burn a proverbial house down, yet the feeling is void and lost under the boredom her audience and herself feel (“Tell Me the Truth”). The ball is in her court most of the time, yet she never truly steps up to the opportunities to make lush and heavy songs.
There are some highlights to Long Way Home that at least feel like steps toward the door. “Heartless,” despite its squeaky clean synths, utilizes bass lines and sly woodwinds to create the space that the vocalist’s choruses require. “Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)” makes a sample feel at home with the nearly upbeat mood Låpsley posits. The hint of disco within actually can get one dancing. And when “Seven Months” strips most of its electronic skin in favour of genuine piano, there’s a mingling of hope and desperation that makes one care about the lover’s situation. Textures might clash, but the singer-songwriter highlights herself as nearly graceful. Nearly…
The world for singer-songwriters feels tough, but Låpsley at least recognizes that a shift in how such artists view electronics and sampling is what’s needed. She’s not trying to change the world, but her tunes should be more than fodder for the lax. Here’s hoping that she finds the potential and gets closer to home.
Dustin Ragucos is a writer of things fictional, poetic, and musical. His main loves include Death Grips and Indie music. Dustin’s blog is host to a weekly blurb about albums old and new.