Montreal artist Lydia Ainsworth is creating enviable soundscapes through her use of vocal sampling, synthesized beats, and haunting melodic lines. I saw her and her (very talented) band open for Owen Pallett in Ottawa last weekend and it was a magical night. She reminds me a bit of Kate Bush with a touch of Bat for Lashes thrown in, but Ainsworth is truly unique and brings a sound that is all her own – taking influence from a variety of sources such as Bulgarian choral music and Art of Noise.
“Candle,” the first track on Right From Real, opens with an understated rhythm and strong strings. Ainsworth’s lyrics are full of imagery and paired with a simple melody that becomes jagged as her sampling prowess comes into focus. Her music is the synthesis of many small bits of intrigue, and this song is an example of just how seamlessly they are all able to mesh. The following song, “White Shadows,” opens with a curious sounding introduction, fleshed out by a repetitive call over splintered vocal samples. She layers her vocals to create a choral effect, which fades away as the strings begin to soar.
“Malachite” really highlights the influence of choral music on Ainsworth’s sound, with what sounds like synthesized Gregorian chanting backing throughout the verses. Rolling synth lines and a simple beat are featured as well. “Take Your Face Off” has more prominent drumming than in previous songs, which adds some more excitement to the midway point on the record. Ainsworth does solemn music well, but she can also create true jams with a danceable air. “Moonstone” pairs beautifully crafted lyrics with various vocal modulations and a driving beat. Some of the phrases seem slightly lengthy when trying to fit in with the music, but the song still retains cohesion. The final three tracks on the album continue this journey through the artist’s visceral world, a highlight being “PSI,” a steady pop song that has a welcome light air to it.
Lydia Ainsworth has made a striking collection of songs in Right From Real, defining herself as an artist whose work is well worth exploration. Combining traditional orchestral instruments such as the cello and violin with synthesizing, sampling, and lovely voice styling, Ainsworth is developing a layered sound full of wonder and imagination, which is also able to be translated live in an expert fashion. Bravo.
Right From Real is out now via Arbutus Records.
Top Tracks: “White Shadows,” “PSI,” “Malachite”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)