Recording information: Rowington Village Hall; The Cavern, Shoreditch; The Dairy Studios, Bixton, London; Yeomans House.
Lucy Rose is as much the folky, doe-eyed country girl as her striking debut Like I Used To makes her out to be. The British songstress first found success as the female voice on Bombay Bicycle Club's albums Flaws (2010) and A Different Kind of Fix (2011), and it wasn't long before Rose emerged as a solo artist in her own right. Although the Bombay Bicycle Club involvement gave her a leg up, Rose's success came through her hard work, dedication, and heart-wrenching songs. As all of her previous recorded music came from a series of videos, this debut full-length sees many of her established songs committed to tape for the first time, to the delight of her loyal followers. Although Rose follows a well-trod path in the creation of her music, what sets her apart is the manner and execution of her heartfelt lyrics and gently strummed songs, which sound sincere and familiar. There is no fear of holding back, either, as Rose tumbles from song to song. "Shiver" captures the raw emotions of a broken relationship; the following "Nightbus" portrays a lonely, confused journey home on the last bus through the streets of London. Although many of the emotions here deal in heartbreak, loneliness, and fear (see also "Red Face," "Middle of the Bed," or "First") Rose manages to muster some positivity for the surprisingly upbeat "Bikes," which even includes a wonderful xylophone solo. Her sweet, wistful vocals inevitably evoke comparisons to English folk contemporaries Laura Marling and Emmy the Great, but this is where the comparisons end. Rose's musicianship is backed by her talented band, and together they create an album full of raw emotion and elegant melodies -- helped somewhat by the album's unconventional recording. Initially -- before signing to Columbia Records -- Rose recorded independently and on a shoestring budget; she decided to take her band to her hometown in Warwickshire and record in her parent's country house, the nuclear bunker in the basement and the local village hall. This lends a warm, homey feel to the album, which can be heard on the album closer "Be Alright" -- which atones somewhat for the heartbreak that consumes much of the record -- ending the record on a slightly more optimistic note. For her loyal fans, Rose's debut release has been a long time coming, and they will not be disappointed by the beautifully constructed storytelling she has delivered here. ~ Scott Kerr
Q (Magazine) (p.108) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Standout 'Watch Over' is the sort of slow-building crescendo of jigsaw puzzle rhythms, sample vocals and intertwining guitar lines you'd expect from brainy indie types..."