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I love it when an artist appears that’s so curious and “out-there” that you can’t help but feel intrigued. They lure you in, like a dumbass fish biting a hook like an idiot.
That’s how I felt when Tallaght singer-songwriter Lyndsey Lawlor’s EP Sake appeared on my desk—well, I don’t have a desk, it’s much more like an ironing board—one recent and fateful morning. The quality of her photoshoots and artwork? Top notch. You don’t often get that in an artist’s first EP. Often, you could call their PR stuff amateurish. PR stuff is so unimportant compared to how good an artist’s actual music is, of course. However, the amount of care, dedication and thought that Lawlor has put into every detail of this EP, right down to the nitty-gritty business crap, is what sets her apart from every other new artist that appears on my ironing board.
You couldn’t really define much of Sake genre wise. There are touches of Courtney Barnett’s spoken, common sense style, with riot grrrl anger laced through the delivery. Those guitar tones? They’ve got little splashes of psychedelic influence with 90s alt-rock chorus pedals everywhere. There’s more behind that though, with an unsettling ambience suggesting a touch of the cinematic.
Coming back to anger, though. Sake is the most apt title you could summon. It’s a real disappointed shake of the head from Lyndsey Lawlor, a frustration with the state of place. ‘No Teeth’ is clenching your jaw until your teeth shatter. ‘Eat The Money’ is a catchy number, lamenting neoliberal greed.
‘Sake’, the title track, summarises it all. Spoken-word fury over warped, reversed guitars. Lyndsey Lawlor curses the cost of cigarettes, racism, getting around in Dublin, and how TV is sorta shit.
It’s nice to hear Dublin music actually talk about Dublin. Not merely the bland, useful appropriation of the Liberties we’ve heard so much of recently. It’s honest Dublin critique and appreciation with a weird blend of styles. Lawlor’s accent is strong, especially when her voice rises to a screech. Hearing Dublin place names? Nice touch.
There are also low points, admittedly. Some aspects of songs like ‘Cabin Pressure’ are clever, but just don’t gel, and some lyrics just don’t fit. ‘That Screen’ delivers bad Black Mirror style “What If Phones But Too Much” sanctimony. It veers so close to standing on a soapbox, enough to elicit an eye-roll.
To be fair, this is an EP. It’s a demonstration of extreme potential from Lyndsey Lawlor, not a full stop on an art piece. Parts of the songwriting could be polished, but there’s so much time for polishing in the future. Sake stands as a masterful blending of styles. It shouldn’t work but weirdly does, illustrating the drive for change fueling a furious songwriter.
Sake is available on streaming services now. You can also purchase a download here.