Laurence Made Me Cry is Glasgow-based singer/songwriter and illustrator Jo Whitby. With previous releases she created collections of self-confessional songs which tied together elements of folk, electronica and pop. Her 2013 album ‘The Diary Of Me’ was nominated for a Welsh Music Prize award. This month sees the release of her latest venture, the first installment of a series of eps, entitled ‘Titan’s Daughters’, which sees her collaborating with producer Simon Parton and a couple of guest vocalists.
Track by track.
‘By The Throat‘, bitter-sweet, is a beautifully evolving, spacious and sensuous ballad. Underneath the clarity and sweetness of contributor Chrissy Barnacle’s voice and the sparkling production lies a dark undercurrent which pervades across the first half of the EP. Parton’s production bubbles and shimmers, punchy yet fluid; economic.
‘Melete‘, a piano-driven, ethereal song, modulates between a sense of loss and recovery, thematically. Whitby’s vocal, at times a whisper, feels intimate and calm. There’s real depth to these tracks, hewn from personal experience. Like ‘The Diary Of Me‘ (LMMC’s 2013 album), Titan’s Daughters is both a journal and a journey, of events in a life and of finding one’s self which elicits both melancholy and insight. Impressionistic and highly personal, Jo Whitby wears her heart on her sleeve on this collection, and that sincerity is affecting.
The third track, ‘Siren‘ ups the ante, pace and mood-wise. While there are signs of folk song influences with much of LMMC’s output, this song seems more expansive, more cinematic. Simon Parton builds a soundscape which is as much electronic jazz-fusion, in the vein of the Americana of Lyle Mays, as it is ‘folktronica’.
‘Mneme‘ moves back into the acoustic folk territory on which Whitby cut her teeth. There are hints of ambience and ‘production’, but the majority of the song highlights just the voice of collaborator Rachel Sermanni and Whitby’s guitar; this simplicity acts as an effective counterpoint to the wide electronic soundscapes of the previous tracks.
Speaking of which….’The Muse‘ is an epic, almost anthemic, change of gear. Featuring the voice of Parton himself, Whitby provides call-and-response. There’s a sense that, though this is essentially a Jo Whitby enterprise, each collaborator has contributed vital components, the baubles which hang on the tree of Whitby’s astute and aware songwriting. The closing track, ‘Mneme II‘, is a reprise and epilogue which reminds one of the reflective and daydreamy audio vignettes of Ennio Morricone as well as the whimsy and playfulness of Stereolab.
Whereas Laurence Made Me Cry’s very earliest release was the first paired-down step of a poetic and talented songwriter in possession of a great voice and a guitar; and The Diary Of Me was a more rounded celebration of personal story-telling and artistic collaboration. Titan’s Daughters is a mature development from both of those. A point of arrival, artistically, where Jo Whitby at once both ‘finds’ herself and expresses herself with the help of focused production. This is really good stuff and is highly recommended.
Official website: http://laurencemademecry.com
Available as CD & download from 11th April on Bandcamp