Album review: She Keeps Bees - Eight Houses
PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 November 2014
For their fourth album, Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant were joined by a producer working alongside them for the first time, giving a fresh perspective on their blues-rooted output.
As a result Larrabee’s vocals are distinct and lyrics forthright, making this their most revealing and rewarding record to date.
Cutting back on their more aggressive songs also allows the songwriting to shine, and opening gambit Feather Lighter comes across like an enticing cross-pollination of Scout Niblett’s raw intensity and PJ Harvey’s melodic rock nous.
Cat Power and even Patti Smith are also obvious calling cards, putting the duo in esteemed company of raw, punchy and earthy female-fronted talent.
The pace might remain relatively sedentary through Eight Houses, but the presence, sense of control and low-key humming power is an alluring constant, be it in the prowling, primal and lusty heat of Both Sides or the lean piano backing of Burning Bowl.
Elsewhere the lightly rusty, coruscating guitars and marching drum of Greasy Grass makes for one of the more transfixing moments, along with Larrabee’s emotional delivery in Raven, which simmers over cymbal shimmers before the cathartic crescendo of its chorus.
Feted singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten guests, too, accompanying warm organ and goosebump-inducing shaker in Owl, another highlight.
Delicate, intimate and considered in parts, dense and dramatic in others, Eight Houses is disarming and warm throughout and well worth dipping into.