The erstwhile Belle and Sebastian musician, who recently relocated to Los Angeles, and has previously collaborated with Mark Lanegan on a very Nancy and Lee like project, is of course obsessed with sixties-infused sounds and imagery. It’s all about emulating the likes of Françoise Hardy, Astrud Gilberto and the dreamy West Coast sound, without really losing her own identity.
Apart from a tepid, synthy cover of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream, it works. Rainbow goes bossa nova lullaby; whereas the pretty, autumnal strings and acoustic guitar balladry of Counting Fireflies is enough to give Stuart Maconie a thrill in his corduroys, like his *insert gourmet crisps flavour here* have been spiked with psilocybin.
There is a country tinge to The Heart Of it All, gentle in spite of lyrics focusing on the effects of climate change. The National Bird Of India swoons with tabla percussion and Eastern string arrangements, reminiscent of the halcyon days of Bollywood sixties cinema, where rock ‘n’ roll and Indian traditional music met.
Thankfully, it never once tips into parody, but her breathy voice, half-whispered, can start to feel overly soporific, at times. At thirteen tracks, it is a little bit too long. Far more awake-sounding are the slinky Hey World with its gospel backing singers and swagger, and Ant Life is a poppy swirl (although the temptation to yell, ‘ANT LIFE!’ a la Blur diminishes its kaleidoscopic pop polka dots and loops, somewhat.)
Even if it’s not epoch-shattering, it all feels like a familiar face, an old friend who is faithful and reliable. An album for sleepy, hungover Sunday afternoons, but one which may be rather better suited to the autumnal days of mellow fruitfulness, than these wintry evenings. She’s clearly heading the right way.