The first line of Lou Rhodes’s Beloved One, “A wise man said don’t underestimate simplicity,” is deceptive. The album is certainly a more organic, stripped down departure for the former Lamb singer, but Andy Barlow’s stuttering beats are replaced with intricate layers of overdubbed acoustic guitars, which, along with the found sounds of chair legs and sticks, are plucked and strummed to replicate the textured sonic wash of Lamb’s best songs. And, of course, with a voice as distinctive as Rhodes’s (now maturing to resemble a less gruff latter-day Marianne Faithfull), it’s hard to disassociate Beloved One from the trip-hop duo’s body of work. (Her lyrics aren’t too removed either, touching on both earthly relationships and more spiritual, new age subject matter.) While Rhodes’s voice can grow tiresome, the album rarely lapses into folky monotony and it’s only toward the end that it starts to putter out. A struggle between simplicity and complexity is what led to Lamb’s dissolution, but it was this tension that made the pair’s musical relationship thrive, so while Beloved One is a nice detour for Rhodes (and one that, for the sake of balance and creative sanity, she probably should have been pursuing in between projects with Barlow to begin with), don’t be surprised if they reprise their partnership somewhere down the line.
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