Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Album Review: Listen Lead Love - Esther Crow

The very talented Esther Crow has once again delivered the goods with her finest work to date. I'm referring of course to her forthcoming album "Listen Lead Love" which features ten superb songs of lyrical insight, musical dexterity and compassionate intrigue. This album clearly demonstrates Esther's elevated position amongst the new wave of kindie artist, providing music with a message delivered with both substance and humour.

We "Start The Discussion" with a song that bristles and shines throughout, providing just a glimmer of what is to come. The song really throws down the gauntlet, providing the listener with a manifesto of environmental challenges, emphasising how 'it's up to all of us', to 'start the discussion'. The music also utilises an interesting drum pattern and further benefits from a delightful vocal contribution from the Strawbitty Yops.

Despite the somewhat didactic tone of "Listening is Showing," the artist still manages to sound cool as she expresses 'how we all have unique stories that make us who we are'. The song has a nice gentle vibe, which unravels in true sixties fashion. The song also features a wonderfully melodic guitar break, the execution of which reminded me of the late James Honeyman-Scott. The message is simple and brilliantly executed, revealing how through listening we show, respect, kindness and understanding which is arguably the 'truest gift of all'.

"The Leader in You" is quite sparse with the drums dominating the sound alongside a pulsating bass bringing up the rear. Here the artist 'sees a world of possibilities', enabling the boundless lyrical optimism to continue to flow throughout the track. The bridge is quite superb, with haunting harmonies that really hit the spot. The vocals exude shades of Pauline Murray from Penetration, and further benefit from an inspired counter vocal from Father Goose Music which reminded me a little of Don Letts during his Big Audio Dynamite phase. The final chorus really lifts at the end in true celebratory style courtesy of the additional dynamics provided by the Kare Africa Kids Chorus.

"Community Mouth Orchestra" is ambitious and somewhat experimental. The music incorporates an imaginative layer of vocal tracks that progress and ultimately retreat as the song gradually fades into a beautiful silence. Thoughtful and intriguing, the music provides an escape from oneself, where enchanting melody is clearly the order of the day.

"Solar Power" describes the critical role the sun plays in providing our essential energy sources. It achieves this through highlighting the importance of renewable energy, and how it's time to 'phase out coal and gas', and 'look to the future not the past'. A number of alternative energy sources are then suggested with an almost rap approach, complemented superbly by the arrival of a mesmerising electric guitar. 

"Feelings Are a Rollercoaster" has a light breezy feel, and is introduced in somewhat conversational style. The song attempts to reassure the anxious listener, through emphasising how although 'some days are bad' that's just life'. The music provides an additional degree of comfort to the lyrical commentary digging deeper into the rollercoaster of emotions on display. 'Feelings are indeed a roller coaster', as the listener is further encouraged when things get rough to 'hold on tight'. A warm and gentle track, highly original, that will no doubt weave its magical spell wherever it's heard.

"Homemade Halloween" provides a narrative for sustainability, and does so in a fun and unapologetic way. Although the music appears to be wild and chaotic at times, the artist always appears to be in complete control, even allowing the song to really let rip at the end in an almost psychedelic foray into the unknown. On this song, her ability to scan complex vocal patterns into tight spaces enables her to reveal her message without diluting the impact of the music. I actually reviewed this single last year, and you can find the full review on my blog.

Next up is "Get the Yucky Stuff Done" which is quite upbeat and playful, making the point that in order to have fun, there are certain things that need attending to first. The vocals reminded me a bit of The Muppets bouncing along with the kind of musical merriment that delights and captivates in turn. In this world dealing with 'the yucky stuff' can be fun,' and even rewarding because 'in no time at all, you'll be out playing baseball'. A song about discipline and foresight, delivered with the kind of humour that is sure to bring a smile to your face.

"Christmas Socks" has a slightly fifties vibe, largely due to its laid back groove and uplifting harmonies. The lyrics explain how we can all learn to 'recycle, reuse and repurpose' the abundance of presents and the resulting discarded wrapping paper with a little more foresight. Here the point is quite clearly made, that Christmas is not just for fun, it also requires a degree of responsibility and empathy.

Bringing up the rear the final track "March" is a call to arms, where salient issues of major concern are presented to the listener with steady precision. Whether this is to achieve 'clean air', or 'more housing for the animals', the artist encourages the listener to 'use your voice' in order to make this happen. Here we are encouraged to march for both 'revolution and evolution'.  The song then finishes in somewhat dramatic fashion, coming to an abrupt halt with the word 'march' despatched into a melting microphone. 

All in all a compelling piece of work, where imaginative lyrics merge with a series of musical soundscapes which delight the senses throughout. Esther Crow is an artist who manages to highlight crucial issues, and yet does so with the kind of lyrical levity which is unique to her. Here significant environmental challenges are met with a variety of solutions that children can sing along to. This album is original, catchy and superbly produced, and is sure to be hugely popular both at home and in the classroom. Be sure to listen, it's out on Earth Day 2023.

Esther Crow - children of the revolution.

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