Lene's Shadows And Dust CD was released September 12 2005, celebrated by her classic performance at Joe's Pub, New York City, the day before. As with her earlier efforts starting around the early eighties and launched into near-earth orbit by her impact through Stiff Records, the mainstream media hasn't really noticed yet. While we hold our breath waiting for Rupert Murdoch's personal approval, we appreciate these reviews from the progressive set, on- and off-line.
Time Out New York
It helps to think of Lovich as a classically English eccentric before slipping into Shadows and Dust, her first new-material album since 1990's March, as the first few tracks, though musically respectable (as always, husband/collaborator Les Chappell and many synthesizers are aboard) have a kind of ponderous, curdled weirdness that speaks of navel-grazing out on the moonlit moors. (Either that, or maybe of Lovich listening to screeching voicemails from her longtime pal Nina Hagen, she of avant-bombast musical renown.) Shadows and Dust starts to pick up kinetic steam about midway through, in "Gothica" and "Craze," and then "Insect Eater" really scorches the rocket cottage with Lovich's repeated shrieks of "Earwigs in my bed at midnight!" underlined with luscious keyboard burbles. "Wicked Witch" has a cartoon-funnycar rush that suggests the beloved playing-hooky riddims of Lovich's early songs, and it reflects quite well on the balance of this charmingly and eccentrically back-loaded album.
"Shadows And Dust" is shocking in that Lovich seems not to have missed a beat. She sounds just as wonderfully strange as ever. Generally, when an artist as eccentric and enigmatic as Lovich disappears for an extended period, their return is a disappointment. Not so with Lene Lovich. This new album is as delightfully odd as the best of her music from decades ago. This Czechoslovakian princess (actually from Detroit), wears her surrealistic influences on her sleeve. You can hear traces of Brecht, DEVO and Van Der Graaf Generator in her crisply composed songs about living life happily in the shadows. This CD is a primo slab of mutant cabaret music.
Recorded at her home studio, with her longtime collaborator, husband Les Chappell playing most of the instruments, "Shadows And Dust" sounds like a fresh blast from the new wave heyday of the early 1980s. They say that the best music in the world is whatever you're listening to when you're between the ages of fifteen and twenty, and for me this is it. I would have worn this album out on vinyl had it existed back in the dark ages of the Reagan regime. I guess the time is right for new music to inspire non-conformists.
With song titles like "Ghost Story," "Wicked Witch," "Gothica" and "Insect Eater," you can see that Lovich is still in tune with the Hot Topic crowd. "Wicked Witch," with its driving synthesizer and Lovich's patented operatic hiccup vocals is a standout track that recalls DEVO (at one point, her labelmates in the UK on Stiff Records). "Gothica" is a new anthem for creepy misfits everywhere. "Shape Shifter" manages to take a hip-hop beat and twist it into a perfect vehicle for Lovich's offbeat musical magic.
If you're a fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees, then you need to check out Lene Lovich, for the pure unadulterated sound of a woman on a wild musical mission. Siouxsie copped most of her vocal and musical style from Lovich, but she watered it down. On "Shadows And Dust" Lene Lovich has reclaimed her crown as the leading purveyor of love songs for the weird. The album can be ordered directly from The Stereo Society.
Now in her mid-50s, Lovich is back with her first solo album in 15 years. Working with longtime collaborator Les Chappell and producer Mike Thorne (Wire, Soft Cell), Lovich has created an album with an updated sound and a darker edge. She's still in fine voice, but eschews the poppy new wave sound of her classic debut, Stateless, in favor of industrial-influenced keyboards that sound more like they belong in the early ’90s than 2005. That's less a criticism than an observation, and these somewhat goth, vaguely Siouxsie-like songs work well with Lovich's vocal range.
Lovich's flair for drama works particularly well on two tales of lost love. On "Remember" she sings, "We agreed to dissolve, disappear, to risk all for the sake of love / I only know you didn't show." On "Little Rivers" she laments, "Well maybe you're right / What's dead deserved to die / But somehow we should have tried / Tried to believe in life." On "Wicked Witch," she glides along with manic glee, pausing only for a few evil laughs.
Full of titles like "Ghost Story," "Gothica," and "Insect Eaters," Shadows and Dust is a dark, dramatic disc. What's surprising is how well it works.
If you like the CD, send us your comments, please.
Lene Lovich at the Stereo Society (selected links):
To Lene's home at the Stereo Society (all links)
To Lene's 2005 CD Shadows And Dust
To reviews of Shadows And Dust
To Lene's 2005 biography
To Lene's graphics gallery
Hi-res downloadable graphics
To photogallery from Joe's Pub, New York, 9/12/05
Lene in interview (2005)
Lene in interview (1999)
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