Laura Jean – Devotion
Memories of adolescence radiate in the dreamy, synth-pop sunshine on Laura Jean’s latest album, Devotion
The radical genre switch is an intrepid move by a musician. Existing fans may disengage entirely, new followers may glance backwards and find nothing more of interest; stalwart zealots may feign enthusiasm, yet silently begrudge their devotee tattoo. On Devotion, Melbourne songwriter Laura Jean has made the tangental lunge away from her folky domain toward the dreamy realms of new-age pop without sacrificing too much of her emotive storytelling.
In the opening seconds, a sweeping synth paints a scene of the past. The album serves as a window into Jean’s adolescence, growing up on the coast where sunshine beams eternal but its beauty exists at odds with her experiences of hopeless love (I am too young to know what I want / You just want what people tell you to). Instrumentation throughout is generally quiet or sparse; instead, soft synth-scapes fill the space, allowing her lyrics to manifest with crystal clarity. Her hushed vocal ascensions lend themselves with great ease to the reflective reveries of a sun-glared flashback.
Yet, despite great intentions and considered choices, the album leaves an ephemeral impression. Her candid lyrics fail to prevent some tales from falling flat and the retro rhythms have a tendency to lean toward gimmicky, which detracts from the emotion she is surrendering. However, Jean creates an almost palpable journey into her memories, allowing us to live a personal history vicariously through her words and an evocative genre.
Listen to: Northerly, Touchstone, Girls On the TV