On first hearing that jagged, fractured guitar intro to Intuition, I was transported back to the days of the late 70s band Gang of Four, my former university colleagues. Indeed Julie Ann Campbell, aka LoneLady, is a bit of a fangirl for the group, and for that era of spiky, spare post-punk. More recently her performance at Oslo, Hackney, saw her supporting Gang of Four, or what’s left of them, now that Andy Gill remains the sole original member.
With no preamble other than a vague ‘Hi’ at the direction of the growing crowd spilling into the space at the back of Rough Trade East record shop, LoneLady – the four-piece band – open with Into the Cave, lead song on brand new album Hinterland. It’s a collection of tracks inspired by the urban landscape of post-industrial Manchester, not the renovated inner core but the unregulated anonymous sprawl around its edges, an uneasy mix of low-level buildings punctuated by high-rise towers.
The new retro-synthy album can roughly be divided into two types of songs: classic punchy danceable numbers like Groove It Out, and those which, although still anchored by the insistent beat of the drum machine, allow Julie to vocally explore a more complex range, such as on (I Can See) Landscapes. The former songs are the ones that draw you in with their dancey riffs, and once you’re there, you can take your time to explore the more complex tracks.
The strongest number is title track Hinterland. It is a beautiful and wistful number, deceptive in its progress which starts with a jagged guitar intro and leads into an unexpected cello sample. Those warm notes of the cello combined with the cadence of Julie’s voice give the song an almost English folk-song feel, albeit still in post-punk territory.
LoneLady is a fascinating artist and it’s no wonder this album is making waves. But although the 5‑minute pop song format works for some tracks – on others, the track Hinterland for instance, that format feels slightly constraining, I would have loved it to have gone on for longer.
THE SMALL PRINT
WHEN: March 25, 2015
WHERE: Rough Trade East, Brick Lane
IMAGES OF MANCHESTER…
Manchester and Salford went through massive “slum clearance” in the 1960s, and one local photographer who wandered through the city capturing this time of great change was photographer and teacher Shirley Baker, who died last year.
She documented the city over a period of 15 years and captured a time that was fast disappearing – some of the photos from the early 60s have the appearance of Victorian times. An retrospective of Shirley Baker’s work will take place at The Photographer’s Gallery in London starting from 17th July 2016.
Read about Shirley Baker, her life and work here