“It’s just a song but without it would I have told you this?” sings Lucy Rose, accompanied by gentle strings in the very first moments of her newest record, Something’s Changing. It has been two short years since the release of her second album Work It Out and yet there is a significant shift of tone, palpable even in the first track, Intro. Immediately, she develops a sense of intimacy between herself and the listener, the candour of the question and the fragile lull of her voice creating an uncanny sense that she is in the room with us. Confrontational, questioning, Rose certainly sounds completely in control of the record, and of her listeners; promising an album that is a vulnerable as it is defiant.
The first single to be released from the record, Is This Called Home, forms the second track, and is characterised by the tranquillity of the guitar work and the rolling bass that lulls the listener through the chorus. At points during the song Rose’s lyricism takes a backseat in favour of the cinematic instrumentation; many of the words themselves are given over to refrains and reiterations of the songs title. The introduction of the drums in the last minute of the track creates a sense of pace as she sings “let me hold your hand”. This is also where we catch the first fragments of The Staves’ harmonies, which trace through the entirety of the album.
Strangest of Ways, the third track, forms a welcome interlude in the whimsy of the first two tracks by introducing an electric guitar picking throughout the song, accompanied by a range of percussion, slightly flattened against Rose’s distinctive voice. This is perhaps the track most reminiscent of Rose’s second album, which frequently experimented with a wider range of rhythms and instrumentation. “I’ve got everything by time on my hands” she sings, perhaps referring to the extensive touring she undertook during the process of writing this record. “Let me live in the wild” becomes the call of the chorus, emphasising a raw sense of returning to the base of a growth that is concerned as much with the personal as it is the musical. The fourth track, Floral Dresses, is where Rose’s collaboration with The Staves is most evident; their beautiful harmonies creating a delicate wave of sound behind Rose’s defiant lyrics. Their voices appear almost hyper-feminised, contrasting with the lyrics “I don’t want to wear your floral dresses” and “I don’t want you diamond necklace”, sung in Rose’s more direct style. Their contribution shapes a tone that feels close to folk, emphasised by the dominance of a single acoustic guitar, strummed plainly throughout the track. The result is a song that asserts itself as progressive, confident, whilst also stripping away at the notion that songs of defiance necessarily must be aggressive – here, Lucy Rose beautifully captures the sometimes-tender act of rejection.
Second Chance stands out on a primarily guitar-focused album as a striking piano composition, a simple melody that is later reinforced by an atmospheric bass and drum, injecting the song with a sense of power. “So lift me up / raise my head high / and take my photograph/ and keep it ‘till I’m old enough to know / That I was lovely” she sings reflectively in her delicate falsetto. If Second Change is a song about being immortalised by someone else through photography, Rose’s next track returns the favour, immortalising the someone-else through song. “I’d write a book about every time you kissed me” she sings in her airy voice over a gently strummed guitar. Lyrically, the song is filled to the brim with romantic clichés, however Rose somehow makes even the most common platitudes sound fresh and reimagined, as if she had coined each phrase herself. Vocally, she moves with ease around difficult riffs, making a simple song more complex almost with each breath. The instrumental outro breathes life into the conclusion of a track that could easily have passively drifted away, and thus reinvigorates the youthful, spontaneous feel of the song itself.
The influence of The Staves on the record can also be clearly heard on Soak It Up; though this time ditching the whimsical acoustics of the solo guitar and instead basking in rich electric progressions and a heavier drum line. Without the reinforcement of the harmonies, here are moments at which Lucy Rose’s voice risks being washed away by the power of the music. Though the style suits her simple, powerful lyricism; this track feels as though it could have been more effective pared back to its bones. A sense of balance is created however by the next track, Moirai, which lilts beautifully alongside a hesitant piano melody. In a generally positive, affirmative record, Moirai is characterised by its melancholy. “The house is cold and the sheets so clean and I’m figuring out / Where Morai you let me down you let me down” she sings, creating an atmosphere that feels so delicate that it could shatter at any moment.
No Good At All breaks this dream-like spell with a resilient beat that taps away under a bright melody. The lyrics once against reject passive femininity; “I’m not the oil painting you once bought”, sings Rose in her signature wandering vocals. Echoing the invigorating words of Strangest of Ways, Rose grasps for a sense of raw, unfiltered experience, evident as she claims, “wasn’t looking for a safe haven”. Not afraid to stride out alone, her maturity is especially evident that this point in the album, and creates a joyously affirming listening experience.
The penultimate track on the album, Find Myself, fools the listener with its gentle opening, later blooming jubilantly into the chorus. Some songs on the record could be criticised for failing to develop into a emphatic conclusion, however this is not one of them. This sense of celebration continues into the final track, I Can’t Change It All, which blossoms towards it conclusion in a rousing brass section, strengthened and complimented by The Staves’ stunning harmonies, appearing for the final time. The sense of intimacy that is created at the quiet start of the record is never lost, it only becomes more bold, fearless as the songs go by. This album won’t go down in history as a pioneering, experimental work, but it doesn’t have to. That’s not what this is about. Instead, it serves as a beautiful articulation of an artistic, evocative voice, rejoicing in the simple joy of speaking your mind.