"She Makes Me Want To Stay" & "My Darling" by Lemon BoyReview
It's been some six months since we reviewed Lemon Boy's ‘Imagination' EP for you & here he is closing the year with a brace of songs: "She Makes Me Want To Stay" & "My Darling".
"New" they may be as far as the magazine goes, but the former you may know from his live shows and as far as Luke goes, they have been around a while, dating back to around 2017 as far as composition goes.
It's interesting to me when artists delve back into their archives for releases: sometimes of course it reflects the artistic process in terms of the material only now being captured (or even completed) to the artist's satisfaction. On other occasions they seem to have songs which they feel ought to take priority in the release schedule: possibly at the start of careers because they appear to send the clearest message of what an artist is truly "about".
I think the latter may be the key here: Luke has put out a sequence of delicate mood pieces which in truth do establish his musical persona very distinctively. By the end of them, listeners almost certainly had a clear image of his music in their heads. The next issue would be the traps of expectations and repetition and so the recent EP moved into slightly different territory.
These songs continue to reveal a broader picture of what he chooses to write about & how he can play. He uses the term "happier sounding" and while I am not sure I'd call any of his earlier work precisely dark, he has explored the beauties of melancholia and bleakness for sure.
He also describes them as "..both songs about searching for love in the distance, but trying not to lose hope" which I suppose explains their coupling into one single & lord knows the theme isn't inconsistent with his other work either. Luke goes for nuanced emotions where the negative & positive often jostle each other for primacy & that's the case here. More jaunty than his other tracks for such, but even so, these are not songs to get your party guests out onto the festive dancefloor necessarily. These are songs for the heart and not for the feet.
Performed with more attack than his other more delicate picking to date and with the deliberately limited elements all more prominent than we have experienced before, this is the immediate side of Lemon Boy. There are additional elements to add texture, but these are more conventional songs and there is no danger here of having to grasp for meaning nor games to play of trying to identify wisps of sound which drift into arrangements & then fade before you've fully worked out what they are.
I admired his releases prior to this (as my reviews I hope make clear) but I must emphasise that this partial departure is also to be applauded: no musician, however subtle their vision might be, needs to be taken for a one trick pony & continual releases in a narrow format eventual devalues work through excessive repetition. Luke obviously held these songs back for a good reason & I think he's chosen a good moment to demonstrate to us a greater breadth of his music.