For someone who is best known for trading in musical atmospherics, gossamer-delicate reflections and emotive late night confessionals, Louise Latham manages a neat line in crossover commerciality. On her debut album, Reclaimed, it was the glorious country pop of ‘Melt Me Down Like Chocolate’ that had one eye on the charts and here, opening track, ‘ A Child in My Eyes’ offers the same mainstream potential. Whilst channelling her trademark qualities, its momentum and engaging sing-along nature could easily open the right doors. But at what cost? Would you want to be the next Shania Twain or Sheryl Crow when you could be the next Tori Amos or more topically, Kate Bush?
As I said at the time about Reclaimed, it is in the less commercial corners of Crashing Angels that the music resonates with me. ‘I Would’ is a song that provides a bridge between the opening salvo and the more reflective second act, marrying a gentle pop vibe with upbeat balladry, and it is here that you start to notice the depth of musical texture and attention to detail in the production. Behind and beyond the regular instrumentation, string washes and refrains seem to be the binding to this much layered musical cake, sometimes acting as an intangible ingredient that you would only notice if it were gone, but more often than not adding wonderful detail, like a dusting of sugar or the icing itself.
It is the arrival of ‘Mr Rochester’ that brings us to what I consider the core Louise Latham sound. Spacious yet working the dynamic shifts with exquisite precision from brooding instrumental interludes to soaring, dreaming vocal spires, from gentle shimmering piano to full band crescendos and showing a brilliant understanding of how to work with all of these textures without over playing the song.
It’s a style that continues through the final two songs, ‘Where I Long To Be’ and ‘You’ve Come Along’ both grafting heartfelt optimism to gentler but no less potent dynamics. Louise deals in humanity, explores the beat of the heart, the emotions of love and loss and the possibilities explores the quest for true happiness. This in itself is nothing new but it is her ability to put her words to music that wordlessly and so effortlessly conveys exactly the same feeling and is worldly yet wonderfully unwearied, that sets her above most of her contemporaries.
So, back to my proposal why be the next Sheryl Crow when you can be the next Kate Bush? Crashing Angels suggests that for Louise Latham at least, it is possible to be both.