Review Summary: Chelsea Wolfe, standing in the blazing sun.
Currently, it feels like Louise Lemón is a well-kept secret shared only between those who have happened to hear her gorgeous debut album, “Purge”. However, after relaying her self-proclaimed death gospel anthems across tours with high profile bands that are still connected to the underground scene- such as Sólstafir- the discreet fanbase of Louise Lemón is quietly growing larger and with the release of her sophomore album “A Broken Heart is an Open Heart”, an album that has the potential to transcend the borders between an array of genres ranging from soul to metal and all the grey areas in between.
“A Broken Heart is an Open Heart” sounds as if Louise Lemón set out to create a sense of darkness in a different way to how her debut album was smothered in it but, instead, it has unpredictably emerged to the opposite effect. Various techniques are utilised to create a dark atmosphere throughout this album. Minimalistic and shadowy instrumentation that echoes around the large amount of space, the way in which she adjusts her voice to resemble the despondent lyricism in some songs, expertly controlling feedback and reverberation, elongating the last note of her singing or instruments to extract that extra drop of emotion- to name a few- do genuinely cast a grey façade over songs such as “Montaña”, “Swimming in Sadness” and “Blurry Vision”. However, the same techniques also cast a different emotion. Strength, comfort and joy can be unearthed in the way these same songs smoothly and undemandingly drift along. Whilst this may not have been the intention of making this record, it’s interesting to hear the sonic similarities conjured between opposing forces like hurting and healing.
Perhaps this is why the album sounds so naturally crafted. Literally speaking, the album title illustrates this way in which you can perceive something. A broken heart can be regarded a tragic event; something to be distraught and miserable about, on the other hand, it can be seen as open, an opportunity to mend the fragments with serenity and bliss. With this in mind, you can draw many conclusions and expectations from the self-proclaimed term ‘Death Gospel’, none (or all) of which might fit your own precognitions upon hearing it. Louise’s sonorous croons and wails certainly fit the gospel characteristics. With lyrics drawn from personal experiences, her breath-taking singing is drenched in fervent passion and performed anthemically, meanwhile, the instrumentation resembles bygone eras such as soulful 60s and psychedelic 70s, especially considering the album was recorded using vintage studio equipment. “Susceptible Soul” showcases a beautifully performed wailing David Glimour-y guitar solo whilst “Not Enough” “Almond Milk” sounds like the sultry side of Fleetwood Mac.
Applying the term death gospel to Louise Lemón’s sophomore album in no way demeans its contents, yet, you can’t help but feel like it acts as a rather unnecessary tagline to describe music that would be equally as beautiful, as potent and as anthemic without it. Overall, “A Broken Heart is an Open Heart” is wonderfully easy-going. Heightened by the enormous amount of space that Louise Lemón and producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Myrkur) manifests, the anthemic character of every song makes the album an infectious listen, moreover, at 34 minutes, it becomes easy to feel and sing along to these songs on only a few repeated listens. In terms of darkness, this album is not as atmospherically melancholic as albums by artists such as Chelsea Wolfe, Anna Von Hausswolf and Emma Ruth Rundle, however, how you perceive this unique to you, plus, after only two albums Louise Lemón has demonstrated that she can create the same level of power as these chanteuses as well as establishing a signature sound.