Lola Kirke – Lady For Sale
L.A. singer Lola Kirke is decidedly an artist who dabbles in the “sounds” of the Eighties – which can be interesting. The first run-through of her 10-cuts produced & co-written by Austin Jenkins’ Lady For Sale (Drops April 29–Third Man Records) offers some formidable music, an insert with lyrics.
Kirke has reliable country pipes. Not necessarily retro but closer to a traditional formula. “Broken Families,” is a strong entry. With Lola’s near-Emmylou Harris tone. She scores high. Her music is 80s inspired but her vocalizing is late 60s early 70s Emmylou circa the late Gram Parsons. But, Lola does have a tint of her own style that makes her instinctively original.
What Lola has done is sugar-coat some serious songs. It’s her voice that maintains the quality of the material. She’d fare far better if she went the more acoustic vintage country-rock route. Abstain from the poppy synth-oriented dated arrangements. It works sometimes, it nose-dives later.
Now, despite the formula being attractive, it doesn’t age well. Lola’s voice is rich, proficient & anchored in deeper country waters. She shouldn’t compromise it with gimmicks. Her backup singers are dazzling. The majority of the tunes are catchy & there’s nothing that drags the effort down except for the synthesizer. Country music & synthesizer don’t mix too well. Country is homegrown & synths are technology infringing sound in an Americana-based genre. Too much saccharine in a great cup of coffee.
While “Better Than Any Drug,” is not a favorite it is a workable highly commercialized attempt loaded with sweeteners. However, Kirke’s vocalizing’s still gourmet quality. The song is a radio-friendly suggestive tune the kids would love. A good mainstream single. I won’t deny it.
The title cut “Lady For Sale,” is back to business. Flourishes with synths persist, but the song is well-crafted. Good lyrics & Kirke on this tune bends the ear toward Dolly Parton. What is evident & can be fixed is that Ms. Kirke has painted some serious pictures with her songs but displays them in a gaudy ornate frame. If this is the intention she succeeds. I think Lola’s better than that. The lyric “can you afford the price,” would’ve been a better more tantalizing title, if not an eyebrow-raiser.
When Lola is serious as she is on “Pink Sky,” she’s engaging. The pedal steel guitar & piano with a minimum of synths make it a stand-out. She’s found her voice & doesn’t sound like anyone. “Stay Drunk,” is enticing as a Loretta Lynn-type saloon song. I’m impressed with the vocal diversity Ms. Kirke possesses.
I like this Lola Kirke. She’s got spunk. “Don’t mean a thing when you love the crime….” Wonderful lyrics.
Color image courtesy of her website/B&W Image: Zack Michael. The 36-minute CD @ https://lolakirke.bandcamp.com/album/lady-for-sale + https://thirdmanstore.com/products/lady-for-sale + https://www.lolakirkemusic.com/