LoneLady - Nerve Up
LoneLady aka Julie Campbell is a Manchester born singer and guitarist. Following a run of limited 7”s she’s arrived with her debut album Nerve Up, a record that from end-to-end channels the spirits of her city's past into a stripped down testament to its musical heritage. Not only does it siphon the lineage of musical greats, but it also incorporates the sounds of the mighty structures of the city.
When seeking out a venue to record her work she settled upon a home-made arrangement in an abandoned mill. The spatial sounds generated from this unusual location’s bricks and mortar contribute to the record's sparse and mechanical aesthetic. The final product has a sound far removed from the myriad of recordings pouring out of modern studios. Whilst this couldn’t be described as a minimalist endeavour, it is certainly a frugal one. Each of the eleven songs contain all the essential components to make them work, but nothing else. The guitar sound is refreshingly unaffected and her choice of percussion is a retro tour-de-force: handclaps and bleeps hark back to the eighties. There’s probably more technology in your washing machine than there is behind these beats. But every musical asset is exploited to its full potential, even the space between notes become as crucial as the notes themselves.
With such an open love affair with Manchester her vocal style is strangely American. It’s uncertain if this has been cultivated from years singing into her hairbrush to songs from the other side of the pond, yet despite this somewhat peculiar inflection, her voice is used to full effect as an instrument, panting and holling with tremendous results. Whilst the effects pedals may have been removed from her guitars, she’s been unafraid to wire them into her microphone adding further to her haunting vocals.
Her muses are not solely Mancunian as ‘Intuition’ rings out like early U2, with clean and crisp guitar work, its middle bars shimmer from the glorious light of its open chords. The juxtaposition with her more percussive, chugging rhythmic playing fashions one of the finest tracks on the album. But she always seems to return home as elsewhere The Fall and Joy Division can clearly be heard.
This is a unique and thrilling album. Her sparse instrumentation and vocal style may well have echoes of the past, but these influences fuse together to create something entirely of her own making.