acoustic country jazz piano review singer songwriter

Lou Cowell – “I…Um…” Review

Lou Cowell shares a certain pop masters surname but that’s about all they do share in common. There’s no cheese, no pop – just a soulful singer, a piano and an atmosphere that you can cut with a knife.

“Still Around” opens with sparse piano and a cute yet self confidently fragile voice of Lou’s. Reminding me vaguely of Tanya Donelly with a slight Country twang – set against a progressively unveiling piano backdrop – this song really captivates and draws you in. Sometimes less is more and this definitely is the case here.

“A Good Day” brings in the country vibe but in an adult context. The slightly downbeat chord structures juxtapose the whimsical music and really suit each other well. It’s about time we had some alternative country! Paired with “Hold Down the Sun”, a slower ballad, they inject a downbeat optimism and warm despite not really being up-tempo numbers. “Just Like Me” is more jazzy and upbeat in sound with some unusual lyrics.

“Obvious” is back to the ivories with a nice rising chorus amongst downtrodden verses and works very well. “Lonely Little Hurricane” has a cute whistle over melancholy piano and mouth organs but nothing is as cute as the woodwind introduction to “Nobody’s Rhyme”! Quickly it ends and Lou’s vocal talents whisper through one of the stand out tracks of the album. Mirroring the childlike lyrics, the song is like a fairytale turned eighteen years old and ready to go out.

“I Believe” is a simplistic ballad with a touch of jazz in the background adding a nice flow to it which suffers from sitting between two of the three best songs on the album. “Could We Just Kiss” is again simplistic but has such a presence and atmosphere like a smoky 1950’s bar with Lou as the siren at the mic. I’m not usually a fan of this type of music so you know its done well if it wins a non fan over.

“Winter” closes the album with a soft slow song with a piano so warm sounding you could snuggle into it. The jazz instruments really work well here and suit the mood. There is also a hidden track floating around for the hunters.

Lou Cowell is talented. Her music plays it safe enough to catch the mainstream yet her voice and choice in instrumentation at times shows you that she is an individual that can definitely hold her own space in a crowded genre. If there was a problem with the album, it would be that the tempo of the album as a whole rarely changes. However it is a minor setback. I’m not usually a fan of brass instruments and the fact I sat merrily listening to this album is a testament to Lou that she definitely has a cracking album in “I…Um…”

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