Glow is the latest release from Berlin based South African Alice Phoebe Lou. Phoebe Lou first came to people’s attention through YouTube videos of her busking in and around Berlin doing amazing acoustic covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” and Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”
Since then she’s experienced quite a bit of international exposure with her original music, especially when her song “She” was used in the documentary movie Bombshell which told the story of Hollywood star and inventor Hedy Lamar. Her music has always incorporated elements of what most would refer to as ‘world’, jazz, and pop stylings, and Glow is no exception.
However, what makes Glow different from the rest is that this time Phoebe Lou, instead of commenting on the world around her, has turned her gaze inward. Like many creative people the year long lock down we’ve all experienced has deprived her of usual modes of expression. No concerts, no busking and very few chances to actually interact with anyone.
Considering Phoebe Lou gave a streaming concert wearing her pyjamas it’s safe to say she’s not let the current situation defeat her. Like most of us it has simply made her more introspective. Musically Glow reflects this, for while it mainly retains most of the elements that have distinguished her material in the past its, with an exception or two, less exuberant.
While in some cases it moves dangerously close to Adult Easy Listening, thankfully never quite crossing that line, her music remains intricate, intelligent and intensely interesting. Listening you find yourself being swept up in the emotional content of the song without even paying too much attention to the lyrics.
The music is the conduit through which Phoebe Lou’s emotion is channeled. The lyrics tell us the story behind the feelings, and combined they create a subtle, but effective, mode of expression.
Now don’t be alarmed, Glow isn’t one of those gloomy, navel gazing, introspective albums that too many self important musicians makes to show they actually have feelings. Even though some of what inspired this recording was a relationship falling apart, the playfulness that makes Phoebe Lou’s music so interesting is on full display.
All you have to do is listen to “Dirty Mouth” to realize this is a woman who won’t be put in her place by anybody. No matter how hard the year might have been, Phoebe Lou’s irrepressible spirt won’t be diminished.
With Glow Alice Phoebe Lou proves once again she is a unique voice in pop music who won’t be defined by what’s fashionable or other people’s expectations. Give it a listen, you won’t regret it, and it will uplift your spirits in this difficult time.