North Shore girl with guitar, Lydia Cole, already has an impressive resume. She’s supported Diana Krall, Brooke Fraser and Boh Runga. She’s played at Parachute and Rhythm And Vines, and has released an EP, Love Will Find A Way. Now she’s completed her first album, Me & Moon, which is presented in a pretty digipak with a wistful watercolour-look self portrait on the cover.
The album opens with Blind Boy, a softly stirring song featuring rolling piano, urgent percussion and the deep backing vocals of musicians Nic Manders and Jono Wilson. On this track Cole sings about a lost love with searing honesty: “He told me ‘girl, wanna be my wife’… but when night was day he ran away.” Cole’s soft voice and strong Kiwi accent give her an earnest and genuine sound.
While Blind Boy at first sounds like a downbeat song about disappointment in love, it’s bubblegum pop compared to ten songs that follow it. Titles like Love And Loss And Love, and What We Were set the tone for an album that conjures up the image of a young woman in a moth-eaten sweater sitting on her bed with her knees drawn up against her chest.
While some of these subtle songs come across as thoughtful and layered, others seem a tad anaemic. Running On My Own has a foot-stomping conclusion that could have been taken to more dramatic levels, and Mother and That Was You seem like sketches than finished pieces of work. However at other times the details such as the harmonica on To Know You are wonderful unexpected delights. More variety on the album would have made sweet and simple songs such as Drawbridge stand out like the gems they are.
Cole has a neat turn of phrase, and if her songwriting style diversifies she’ll be someone to watch in the future. In the meantime – someone please give the lady an electric guitar.
Kathryn van Beek
Click here to listen to Running On My Own from Me & Moon: