The lady in question is known simply as Lettie. Her new album, entitled Good Fortune, Bad Weather, serves as a stark reminder of how exceptional, quality artists can remain relatively undiscovered. Indeed, addressing such anomalies in the music world is the mission of music blogs such as this. And so the trial of this talented artist begins. Readers, I dearly hope I can convince your zealous ear drums of my case.
I was lucky enough to have some charming correspondence with Lettie herself. On discussing her third album she explained to me how her creative catalyst David Baron (the American producer) has been central to her work all along. Having initially worked together on her first two albums in 2008, Baron invited Lettie back to New York in 2010 where they recorded for 10 days. They then corresponded throughout the year with technology facilitating transatlantic musical exchanges.
During this period, Baron arduously devoted a year to fine-tuning the album whilst Lettie, a jobbing part-time musician, returned to the UK to support herself. Lettie praises Baron's use of amazing musicians such as Danny Blume, Zac Alford (Bowie, Springsteen) and Sarah Lee (League of Gentleman and B52s). The quality of this production is truly impressive, and when you consider its limited resources and independent nascence, it's almost perplexing. Such an achievement can be explained by the strength of the pair’s relationship - as Lettie explains, "David Baron is more than just a writing partner, he's probably my best friend and his family have played a very important role in my life".
The music itself is a fun brand of electro-themed pop music, but I hesitate in using the word ‘brand’ as there is exceptional variety in this fourteen track album. The opening number 'Swirl' is undoubtedly single material. Its catchy upbeat melody has the makings of a hit, whilst the rousing lyrics exhibit Lettie's resilient and ambitious spirit. This is followed by the chirpy yet serious track ‘Lucky’. ‘Bitter’, a personal favourite, is a fast-paced rockier number - it reminds us that to know happiness in life we need to have experienced sadness. We begin to see how much of her lyrics, light-hearted or serious, are personal reflections on life. Both humourous and trivial themes are present, but even these have a personal resonance as Lettie explains, "Sometimes it's my subconscious speaking...... [at the time] I think it's not personal then I [later] realise it is".
As I navigated my way through the album I was convinced at times that I'd heard these tracks before, or at least that I should have. This album genuinely stands out from the backdrop of her contemporaries. There are some mass appeal tracks - which sounds like a criticism in today’s music industry, but as one reviewer noted, Lettie's songs are "a master class in avant pop", and they truly are. Some of Lettie's more acoustic songs, such as ‘Mr Lighter’, show the ethereal quality of her music. We are serenaded with beautiful strings, but it is the smooth honeyed vocals of Lettie herself which really give this song its transcendent aura. The chic electro pop flavour to her music is present throughout, yet she diverges and experiments regularly enough to ensure no unwelcome repetition in style. ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Digital’ are upbeat, fun songs combining synthy 80s samples and lively drum beats along with Lettie's powerful echoing vocals. This album would comfortably inhabit the MP3 players of a wide demographic of music lovers.
The simple yet quaint and catchy keyboard and guitar riffs complement the stories Lettie tells throughout the album. The closing two tracks, ‘Crash and Burn’ and ‘On and On’, are two perfect examples of this. The personal and yearning tone of her lyrics are strong, yet the songs are still cheerful, catchy and contagious. Lettie confesses that she and Baron write "quite snappy songs", and it's true they don't linger, rarely stretching much over three minutes, ensuring your full attention. Lettie lists off a number of impressive influences in artists such as David Byrne, Lou Reed, Cat Power, Ry Cooder and Debbie Harry, who have together clearly had a nurturing effect on her music. I often caught legends such as Aimee Mann, Regina Spector and Kirsty MacColl echoing in her songs.
In preparation for this review I switched the album on repeat and began to write. Had some creative spark not invented the repeat button, I'm certain the infectious nature of this album would have had me repeatedly pressing play. The album is fantastically diverse and provides a track suitable for every setting. Whether you need a lively anthem like ‘Swirl’ to ease the pain of doing the dishes, or a slower acoustic number in ‘Mr Lighter’ to unwind after work, Good Fortune Bad Weather accommodates. In summary I strongly urge you to give it a listen.
Lettie's album launch takes place on Wednesday 27th of June at the Elgin, Ladbrokes Grove in Notting Hill. Her album is a steal at £6.50 and is downloadable from her website.