What began simply as a late-night jam session with a group of musicians in Boston has landed London songwriter Lacy Kay with a strong supporting cast of musicians to take her accessible and in-touch songwriting to another level. This most recent project from Lacy Kay and the Righteous Liars showcases the potential of a band that can wear many hats. The second part of their ongoing series of releases, simply titled O, delves into the aftermath of a relationship that recently deteriorated, initially setup in the first release, titled X. The band, comprised of Moira Applebaum on keys, Matthew Edwards on bass, and Aaron Robertson on drums, navigate the mood and express well the lyrics in the EP. The arc of the EP, both in terms of dynamic sonic build and lyrical narrative, is well devised.
The album starts off with a lower energy and more predictable, pop-ballad type songs in both “Last Goodbye” and “Hollow Point”. The band doesn’t try and do too much while supporting the piano driven ballads. Lacy Kay’s vocals immediately warrant attention in “Last Goodbye”, as she impresses with a big dynamic range. The song’s backing track doesn’t impose much and sometimes even leans toward a shoe-gaze sound with ambient guitars and thick stagnant lows. The song is a slower build and sets up nice for “Hollow Point” which makes more use of the band, introducing a bit more in terms of groove. The end of this second track shows the group breaking away from the pop-inspired songwriting. There is a particular solo section here where the bass mirrors a lead harp-sounding part. The bass stands out over top of just about everything else here and offers a beautifully written solo that colors everything around it. From here the EP takes a more funk and soul inspired turn.
This turn is much for the better if you’re a fan of groups like Hiatus Kaiyote or Moonchild. The end of the second track sets up the third well so the change in mood and feel isn’t abrupt. “Oh Lover” amps up the energy and gifts the drums a bit more breathing room to open up the rhythm to let the songs breathe. The highlight of the EP is “Black Soul” which is a very well-defined and structured song. The band nails the groove with a refreshingly spry drum beat and thoughtfully constructed bass part. The vocals continue to shine as Lacy Kay gives her most powerful performance emotionally and technically. Her grace notes color in chords to complement a jazzed out piano part. Every piece in the song yields something exciting to latch on to, and each part creates a whole better than itself. This song stands out as a sound the band seems to nail easily, even better so than the first pop-ballad style.
Overall this EP delivers on a lot of avenues. There are a few things that can take away from the experience here though. The drums sound a bit electronic and quantized, though they are in fact live drum recordings. The organic feeling of the songwriting was a treat, but the drum mix took a little bit away from that. Regardless of why these may sound a bit more inorganic, it leaves anticipation for how this band can sound in a raw live setting or with a slightly more organic recording process in the future. This is definitely a recommended listen. From the strong performances to the versatility of the songwriting, O will leave the listener excited to hear more. Be sure to check it out on major streaming platforms on January 25th, 2019.