Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeMusicReview: Lemoncello – Lemoncello

Review: Lemoncello – Lemoncello

‘Lemoncello’ is one of those records that has a binding sound all the way whilst boasting an incredible range of tones, moods, and textures within each individual song. The sonic glue I refer to is a sort of ethereal, harmonious, ever-shifting sheen of a topcoat gliding across a tense, grinding underbelly of distortion and vibration. It is a juxtaposition that works so well, such as on the semi-spoken verses of Harsh Truths, for example, delivered over waves of contorted cellos, evoking a sense of the unvarnished and direct communication referred to in the song’s title.

There is a soft yearning quality to All The Good Men, while the magnificent bright yellow bloom of a sunflower is powerfully evoked in a song of the same name, wherein the joint lead vocals mesh in a way that is both shining and imposing. Quiet at times but always alive with a sort of ethereal energy that is present right from the start on Always Neighbours. It makes for a haunting start to this self-titled album as we are immediately dropped into an oil-lamp-lit room in which friendly ghosts are met head-on with the waking forward motion of life’s relentless march. Michael Furey (I’ve Had Lovers) is far more up close and intimate in tone, starting out with a deep, authoritative voice inclining towards a Lisa O’Neill rather than other, more graceful singing heard throughout; here also, the cello sound is more a deep turquoise than anything lighter. Even when, on paper at least, a shinier touch is visited upon, such as the ‘la-la-la’ refrain on Mantlepiece, there is still the sense that dark clouds are overhead.

This is an enchanting debut album that is as settling and familiar as it is mysterious and intangible. A nine-track work from this indie-folk duo that is released on the Claddagh Records label. It’s an album that invites the listener on an excursion, a journey deep into life’s evolutions with a widescreen viewpoint that is viewed through a decidedly personal lens. The actual masters of that lens are Laura Quirke and Claire Kinsella, the pair who bring into clear focus exactly what Lemoncello are all about the moment they sing together. It is a sound the Irish pair have been getting the right kind of attention for as well, having enjoyed opening slots for luminaries such as Lisa O’Neill, Sam Amidon, Glen Hansard and Cormac Begley in recent times in addition to nominations for Best Folk Song and Best Emerging Folk Act at the RTE Radio 1 Folk Awards. Indeed, this debut release has been eagerly anticipated by many. But there is something about the sound that has a tactile element to it, a real tread to its motion that you do not always hear on music that has enough pastoral moments to equally be described as floating and shimmering. I think I may have found the answer, though, when I learned that the record was recorded directly to tape with analogue-loving producer Julie McLarnon overseeing proceedings. To my ears music always benefits from a few rough edges, or as vinyl lovers would call it “background noise” and there is indeed a leaning in that direction to be found here. The band themselves say, “it was such a joy working with Julie. We didn’t look at a computer screen the whole time making the record.” This wrestling for a human touch amongst the deluge of technological debris surrounding us in the 21st century is deftly looked at on the song Dopamine. There is a depth to the production on this track that really whets the appetite for how Lemoncello could develop sonically in really bold ways in the future; the effect renders the human voices sounding almost ghostly among the clunk and the clang of digital life, the ever-present hum of that netherworld against which the protagonists ask “if I delete my face will my body disappear?” As the song spirals to a spectacular conclusion in a whirlwind of cascading voices, thoughts and echoes, you will surely be swept up by its undeniable force. In that moment, there will be no doubt that Lemoncello are really going places musically, and this is one journey we should all hitch a ride on.

Sunflower (Live)

performed by Laura Quirke, Claire Kinsella, Caimin Gilmore and Gareth Quinn Redmond


Director: Sophie O’Donovan | Producer: Kate Gurren | Concept: Laura Quirke

Lemoncello is out now on Claddagh Records (3 May 2024)

Order Lemoncello here: https://lemoncello.lnk.to/lemoncello

UK dates beginning this month including London’s Moth Club and Cambridge Folk Festival in July.

Details: https://www.lemoncelloireland.com/#/tour

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