sat 20/07/2024

CD: Laura Welsh – Soft Control | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laura Welsh – Soft Control

CD: Laura Welsh – Soft Control

Solo debut album reveals a voice of dramatic depth and power

Laura Welsh: a bit of everything, but introspective solos the best

With the use of her song “Undiscovered” in the soundtrack of the recent 50 Shades of Grey film, you’d expect the control Welsh sings about to be of the firm, if not positively disciplinary, variety. Yet this album, her solo debut, scores highly as a subtle, mature, rather delicate collection.

We’re in thematically familiar soul-pop territory, but Welsh’s vocal skill, dramatic control of the musical narrative, and quality of the lyric-writing, all lift the release into a much more rarefied category.

“Soft Control” may refer partly to an approach to relationships, but it’s just as relevant to Welsh’s ability to shape a musical phrase, which is probably the most distinguished feature of this album. On the first and title track, her voice cracks, whimpers, shivers, then booms into a stadium-filling yell, brilliantly evoking the confusion of a broken relationship. It’s a bold choice for a title track, requiring close attention to the lyrics to yield its message, though it showcases Welsh’s voice very effectively. There’s a similar range of vocal effect on “Breathe Me In”, the gasps and murmurs adding an electrifying drama to the story, while other tracks, “Still Life”, a kind of yearning electro-pop confessional, and “Hollow Drum”, stand out for their mesmerising, mournful percussion rhythms.  

There are bigger sounds on the album: “Break the Fall” has a booming, balladic chorus, but sustained volume on that scale flattens the light and shade that makes Welsh’s voice a very special feature of this collection. There are some starry names guesting on here, especially John Legend on “Hardest Part”, his quavering voice a good match for Welsh’s own undulating line. The spectral, haunting solo vocal lines are the best, however. It’s understandable that such a debut should include a bit of everything, and some Google-boosting names, though what will last of this is Welsh’s solo dramatic power.

Her voice cracks, whimpers, shivers, then booms into a stadium-filling yell, brilliantly evoking the confusion of a broken relationship

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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