No Words Left
Communion/Arts & Crafts
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Nearly one year ago to this day, Lucy Rose graced the stage of Manhattan’s (Le) Poisson Rouge and with her signature, self-deprecating humility and wry humor, she addressed the audience assembled there. “I don’t know how you have found out about my music. I don’t know what’s wrong with you to want to spend an evening listening to my sad songs,” she joked. “But I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that you guys have all come out this evening to support us in this way.” She then launched into an acoustic, goosebump-inducing rendering of “Shiver,” the final single released from her 2012 debut album Like I Used To.
I was there that evening to listen to her sad songs, and it was a thrill to bear witness to a musician so intimately connected to—and in control of—her craft. But though I’ve been to too many shows to count in my lifetime, few performances have awakened such a visceral response in me as this one. It had been a totally normal, uneventful day up until that point, but I sensed myself unraveling a bit as each of her songs segued into the next. Her words dislodged something in the deeper recesses of my heart and mind that made me reflect more lucidly on things in my own life—the highs, the lows and everything in between. I sipped my beer faster, in the hopes of relieving the lump in my throat and calming the flutters in my gut, to no avail.
As I and my fellow spectators experienced firsthand that night, the power to make you feel something when you hear them is inherent within Lucy Rose’s songs. And it should come as no surprise, as she has suffused her songs with uncompromisingly raw and vulnerable emotion since the earliest days of her career.
Her superb third album Something’s Changing (2017) exemplifies her penchant for the confessional strains of songwriting, albeit with a balance of the somber and sanguine underpinning its compositions. Less than two years on from its precursor’s release, Rose’s Tim Bidwell-produced fourth album No Words Left finds her baring the conflicts of her soul with an even more pronounced clarity and self-awareness. Her crystalline voice is noticeably prominent atop the stark yet sublimely melodic arrangements of acoustic guitar and piano, punctuated by strings that heighten the emotional tension of her musings.
“In every way I’ve approached writing, recording and now releasing music, it’s been different,” Rose said of the album when she officially announced it back in January. “I’ve lost all consciousness in caring and it’s been liberating. It is what it is. It’s a feeling, it’s a song, it’s a sound, it’s a part of me which I can’t decipher whether it’s good or bad, but it’s sincere.”
Indeed, the eleven songs that comprise No Words Left are refreshingly devoid of pretense and calculation. Instead, they illuminate Rose’s troubled inner monologue and feelings of detachment, as she wrestles with her self-worth as an artist, a woman, and a lover. This is arguably most clearly manifest on the album-concluding “Song After Song,” in which she grapples with self-doubt, reflecting, “Help me, I'm living out my dream / Or so it seems / When I see that look in your eyes / I know that I’m telling myself a lie / Oh, a lie / Maybe I'm not as good as the girl I hear next door / I hear her now / Ooh, she's playing her guitar / Through a bedroom wall.”
Her confidence is—at least temporarily—revived, however, on the piano-driven, saxophone-enhanced “Solo(w),” inspired by her decision to exit last year’s tour supporting fellow UK singer-songwriter Passenger. “I realised that I’d rather play to 20 people who cared, rather than 1000 people who didn’t,” she confided to The Line of Best Fit in a recent interview. “I’m not saying that all of them didn’t, but you can’t hear the ones that care.”
“Treat Me Like a Woman” is a cathartic meditation on gender dynamics, inspired by Rose’s perceptions of how others view and engage with her as a woman. “You treat me like a fool / Or do you treat me like a girl? / Treat me like a fool / Or do you treat me like his wife?” she inquires in the opening verse, before admitting, “I'm afraid and I'm scared and I'm terrified / That this is how it will be for all of my life.” Informed by her personal experiences, her words surely resonate with most—if not all—of her female listeners who harbor the same feelings of marginalization.
The album’s lead single “Conversation” is a stirring rumination on the challenges of sustaining love, beyond the initial flush of newfound romance (“If you look at what we once had / Well it feels many moons away”). An intimate confession directed toward her partner, “The Confines Of This World” finds her striving to hold it together for him, confiding, “’Cause all I ever wanted was for you to feel proud / And everybody's telling me I'm losing my mind / And all I ever wanted was for you to feel calm / Now everybody's worried that I'm losing my faith.” Her hope is later restored on the plaintive piano ballad “Nobody Comes Round Here,” as she wistfully declares, “When I'm dreaming you're still with me / And then I open up my eyes / They open up wide.”
Contrary to the album’s title, and as if her growing legion of devotees ever doubted it for a second, it’s more evident than ever before that Ms. Rose has plenty of words left to share with the world and a whole lifetime of songs to sing ahead of her.
Notable Tracks: “The Confines Of This World” | "Conversation" | “Solo(w)”