Burrowed beneath the eaves in a tiny little countryside cottage, Lyla Foy’s whispers have been caught, just. Quietly recording vocals with a mic by the window, she’s been competing with birdsong to no avail. Undisturbed, they now need a credit on the album.
Weighted by softness, her voice spreads like a thick mist, swamping lithe instrumentation in its wake. A minor churn of keys here, analogue drum machines there, but oh so minimal, moving like a ghostly derivative of The Postal Service with tones recalling the angelic folk of Daughter, with a quirky nod towards Alessi’s Ark for good measure.
Baring all, her first solo track ‘No Secrets’ set a precedent for intimacy even she was wary of. Released under the moniker WALL two years ago, the 25-year-old London-born songwriter has only just found the confidence to use her real name – and now has an album, ‘Mirrors The Sky’, out through Sub Pop.
“I chose WALL randomly, and I kinda liked it for a while because it was nice having something to hide behind. Then it just started to feel a bit done. I’m ready to put my name to my music now.”
No wonder she was coy. The songs delve deep, excavating the dark undertones of romance with a captivating delicacy. Troubled lovers, approach with caution. Allusions to heartache abound, abstract language window dressing for an obvious sentiment. In Lyla’s words: “Lyrical imagery, instead of just saying ‘I got dumped’.”
Solitary bedroom experiments now only serve the beginnings of a sound, three band members on hand to follow her carefully considered lead.
“I’ll very rarely record loads and then strip it back. I’ll record a tiny bit of instrumentation, one bassline or one tiny little organ, then record my vocals, add little bits of melody in the gaps.”
Though melodies are quick to surface, their role is fleeting. “I feel like the next (second) album might be even more stripped back, more experimental, more wacky. There are some slightly more major moments on this album but mostly it just reflects the music I like: the darker, minor sounds. Sad songs are the best.”
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Lyla Foy, ‘Feather Tongue’
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WHAT: Hushed, confessional dream-folk
GET 3 SONGS: ‘No Secrets’, ‘Easy’, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’
FACT: It’s not just birdsong on the album. “There’s also a couple of moments where you can hear sheep in the background,” she tells us.
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Words: Kim Hillyard
Photo: Liam MF Warwick (website)