Album Review: Lou Rhodes – One Good Thing (2010 LP)


Once one half of Lamb, Lou Rhodes has now taken a bold step forward since the group’s dissolution in 2004. Her debut album, 2006’s “Beloved One”, probably surprised many Lamb fans. Gone were the dance beats and signature trip-hop ambience; in their place was a much more organic, acoustic-based and folk-ish sound.

The new musical direction could be a result of the tumultuous few years in her life, which saw her separate from the father of her children and move from the bustling city of London to a commune in Surrey, England. Then, her second LP “Bloom” preceded another sad event in her life – the suicide of her sister. The culmination of such life-changing events could explain the moodiness of her third full-length release, the evocative and deeply emotional “One Good Thing”.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Nico and Nick Drake, Rhodes took the songs on her latest album back to a more authentic place, recording it live and in two weeks, using only two or three takes for each song. Like her previous two albums, she adopted a ‘less is more’ approach, and the minimal instrumentation – often nothing more than acoustic guitar and strings – allowed plenty of space for her beautifully ethereal vocals. Melancholy guitars and sparse orchestral flourishes underpin her quivering, emotionally rich voice in tracks like “There For The Taking”, while her voice ascends and lilts in a positively heavenly manner over choppy, strummed acoustic guitar as she croons “say your goodbyes to it all” in the gorgeous track, “It All”.

Rhodes’ gift for heartfelt balladry is one of her greatest strengths as a songwriter (just listen to Lamb’s “Gorecki” or “Gabriel” if you need a reminder). However, the songs seem to meld into one another due to the slow-burning pace of this record. It is only when there is more dynamic instrumentation – like with the more full bodied, cascading guitar in “Circles”, or the haunting synth pads and plucked melodies of the sorrowful closing track”Why Wait For Heaven” that the songs become more memorable. There is no denying that this album is rich with beauty; unfortunately the lack of variation makes it is much too fleeting.

Review score: 7/10