26989_origIt is far too easy to label singer-songwriters as folk artists just because of the often laid back nature of their music and the fact that they perform solo and that there is a lack of any obvious pigeonhole to put them in. And whilst Louise Latham does cite the obviously folk based Cara Dillon as a big influence, it is probably the broader ranging style of another red haired keyboard chantress, Tori Amos, which informs her debut album.

Although lead tracks such as the country-esque Melt Me Down Like Chocolate are the obvious door into the mainstream consciousness, it is the less commercial tracks that deliver the albums defining moments. Together Tonight almost sums up in one songbite what Reclaimed is all about, graceful, ethereal vocals, heart on the sleeve sentiment, atmospheric spaces hemmed in by gentle strings and wonderful production. And with that as the underlying template the songs then branch off in myriad wonderful directions.

Gilded Bird takes this to its most sweeping and grand conclusion creating an exotic musical backdrop and imagery that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bat For Lashes album, never a bad place to share common ground with. The title track that provides the albums swansong is a gloriously stripped back slice of the artists’ soul set to piano and Erase Me pushing into soaring alternative pop territory and throughout everything the layering and production is spot on providing the right blend of space and grandeur and the key to this may lay in the nature of the albums conception.

Having created a bohemian studio environment in the producer Arno Guveau’s flat, the pair then lived and breathed the recording process for two months and it was this intimacy with the environment that probably lead to a channelling of the songs rather than the usual and more formal work ethic. The result is a set of songs imbued with the personality of those involved, which seem natural extensions of the artist rather than a separate creation that exists away from them.

But the heart of the matter is that away from clever production, deft playing and well-crafted songs, you believe in the lyrics. Heartfelt and honest, the selling point is that you can relate to both the romanticism and the cold emotions that she lays bare before you. When she sings “I can see it in your eyes” or talks of shattered hopes and dreams, of lies, love and loss, you can stand in her shoes and relate to the songs messages and recall those moments in your own life. The fact that she can talk about such difficult and dark emotions without falling into self-pity or melancholy indulgence is what makes the songs work of using a soaring optimism or at least reflective wistfulness to turn the message around.

As debut albums go it is an outstanding creation and will take some following, such is the benchmark that she has set herself but like anyone who has heard these songs, I look forward to what ever comes next with eager anticipation. So to return to my opening consideration, is Louise Latham folk, pop, rock, acoustica? Actually, she is all and more, in fact she is anything she damn well chooses to be.

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