Half Waif – Lavender

Nandi Rose Plunkett has nailed the careful art of crafting an album with Lavender

Album Review by Skye Butchard | 23 Apr 2018
Album title: Lavender
Artist: Half Waif
Label: Cascine
Release date: 27 Apr

'Don’t expect me to come home in the evening / You know that I’m trying to face the night’ Nandi Rose Plunkett ruminates halfway through her new album Lavender. Her voice is tense and animated, hushed one moment, boisterous the next. The tactile synths beneath her capture all the drama and heft of her words with their fluid, alien quality.

Plunkett writes a lot about the night on Lavender. The darkness of recent world events has stirred a need for upheaval and purity within her. On In the Evening she struggles with emotional intimacy, shutting out the world, and those close to her with it. It’s one of many stunning Half Waif songs – the blossoming build, sharp melody, and shifts in structure all captivate as you would hope. But Plunkett is writing with a fresh focus. When the instrumentation melts away on the pre-chorus, you feel like you’re there with her, submerged in the dark.

Each song on Lavender deals with this need for purification. Its title is a dedication to her late grandmother, whose ritual of boiling lavender to cleanse her house Plunkett didn’t become aware of until recently. On Torches and Keep It Out she cleanses through righteous self-sufficiency, while Silt describes her peeling away her reservations by choice, guiding a potential partner towards her. These are heavy topics of doubt and identity, somehow delivered as impeccable pop songs. Keep It Out is a classic aching ballad that morphs across its runtime, slinking from airy electronics to buoyant futuristic synth pop. By the time its second chorus arrives, it’s a thrashing anthem. Silt grows fiery before you’ve had time to process the shift, and suddenly you’re leaning into the beat to follow her voice.

Back in Brooklyn strips it down to the rawest elements: voice and piano. ‘The further away I walk, the more I am a whisper / Listen for me now,' she screams, pleading with us to feel it. It’s the album's emotional peak, on a record that thrives on carrying the listener through various peaks and valleys in a single song. 

Plunkett has effortless control over a melody, an instrumental, a strange sound effect. She’s always been a powerful performer, but she’s nailed the careful art of crafting an album with Lavender; its stories, themes and tunes echo each other powerfully. 

Listen to: Keep it Out, Slit, Back in Brooklyn