Laura-Mary Carter, one half of rockers Blood Red Shoes, turns to the acoustic guitar for her debut solo outing. Pivoting from the thumping racket of her day job, Carter draws inspiration from country music adding a noir-ish pop twist.
A much quieter and more contemplative sound than her usual guitar-shredding anthems, Town Called Nothing was written in between tours at various sublets and studios in the UK and Los Angeles. On the initial process she says: ”I found a beat-up acoustic guitar and without thinking about it songs just started to come to me. The idea of writing on an acoustic guitar was new to me. I realised that writing in this intimate way exposed my voice and changed the way I was writing and singing lyrics.”
Following 17 years of tearing it up around the globe with her bandmate Steven Ansell, Carter is discovering a voice she hasn’t given a voice to until now. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on a usually hectic touring schedule gave the Dubliner an opportunity to finally sit still. Long enough at least to experiment with different sounds. However, it wasn’t long before her nomadic desires took over again. From a young age, Carter was used to a peripatetic lifestyle, never really calling a single place her home. It proves to be a major influence on Town Called Nothing. Across the 22 minutes, Carter explores themes of love, exploration and self reflection.
On album opener, Blue’s Not My Colour, she acknowledges her developed pragmatism when it comes to ending relationships, reflecting, “Just a moment in time / like a stranger passing by,” while on Signs, we’re reminded that even the toughest of lovers who’ve experienced heartache simply need space to heal: “Signs they say it takes some time / waiting on tomorrow.” Title-track Town Called Nothing is a country-indebted lament about the inescapable pull of a relationship doomed to fail. It’s true to the aphorism of three chords and the truth, as the jaunty band rides behind our wanderer exploring a new route on a previously well known musical map.
Carter has the voice and looks to make it as a pop act if she really fancied pursuing that particular goal. But her influences on the EP veer more towards the likes of St Vincent and Angel Olsen whose alternative approach to crafting clever observations on life perhaps indicate Carter’s preference. This is summed up on Better On My Own when she affirms, “I will never be the girl you knew before / I will never be the one whom you adore.”
The brooding diary piece of The City We Live exposes an insecurity so many feel when a relationship gets comfortable – the point where you stick or twist – and the perils of being the one left behind. For someone, like Carter, used to grabbing life by the horns, this might feel doubly daunting.
On Ceremony, Carter’s refrain of, “No regrets, no rewinds, resets” reassures us this is no damsel left behind to wallow. The time afforded to her over the past 18 months has given Carter a renewed creative focus, which has only begun to bear fruit over these six songs.
It feels like there is a lot more to come if the opportunity to continue exploring new musical pathways.