What does Lanę sound like?
New Zealand dark folk.
The review of Lanę – Alchemy (EP)
Teaming up with Brett Shaw, who has produced for Florence and the Machine and Daughter among others, was a wise decision for Lanę. Her new EP ‘Alchemy’ leans into a buttery smooth production where acoustic guitars and pianos have been sculpted to bring out their sadness. Understated melancholy is what Lanę does best, and this EP is dripping in a dark folk atmosphere to help it along.
Whilst production helps, it is Lanę’s songwriting and largely soft delivery that conquers all. She often bases a song around a simple riff of guitar or piano that feels minimal, reflective and meditative. Lanę then sings to a slight minor off-key note, or a surprise octave shift at critical moments as the chords rise or fall back to a safe landing. Each time it smashes your nervous system with sadness, empathy and catharsis in equal measure. The way Lanę does this switches from track to track so it never feels like a simple trick, but it elevates every song perfectly. Tracks like ‘Muscle Memory’ seem so simple to listen to yet they are emotionally charged with Lanę’s vocals and her vulnerable delivery. ‘Killing Floor’ has soft muted drums over an ambient smeared piano that leaves everything hanging in the air for just long enough.
New Zealanders have a rich folk heritage and Lanę adds to this across the EP. ‘Faithful Heart’ straddles dark folk with deep country twangs that reminds me of Marissa Nadler at times. Elsewhere fellow New Zealander Lydia Cole comes to mind with the beautiful ‘Massachusetts’. Lilting between two lazy acoustic guitar chords, warm tape distorted pianos plink around distorted like we’ve gone back in time. It’s a concept used across the EP and it works a treat, creating a vintage and timeless sound like old vinyl. Lead single ‘Blood Language’ is beautifully affecting too. Its slow build to its smoky and understated drama of big chords, muted drums and the softest vocal delivery makes every note feel powerful and soul-slaying. The EP closes with a live performance of ‘Strange Alchemy’. Whilst you can tell it has a different mic set-up, it is a flawless intimate performance.
‘Alchemy’ showcases how noodling guitar and piano music can be elevated by sensitive and restrained vocal performances. Lanę’s minimalist instrumentation never bores or tires. Instead, it feels like you are reaching behind the veil of something more majestic – a deeper understanding of something. In an age where a lot of musicians throw a kitchen sink at things, it’s refreshing to have an artist that can take stillness and sit with it, no matter how sad the song may become.
Recommended track: Muscle Memory
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