Most likely to be heard crafting a Twin Peaks style soundtrack or an old British 70s cop show groove, Sara Lowes songs bubble with everything from the primordial soup of Technicolor pop, to acoustic folk, through jazz, and kaleidoscopic prog. To adopt so many styles as her own anyone would think Lowes a girl with severe ADD or plenty time on her hands, yet neither could be further from the truth.
Since the release of 2011’s debut LP Back To Creation, Manchester-via-the-North East musician and writer Lowes has found herself in hot demand. Blame The Earlies. Since touring with them at 21, having learned the piano from her mother and church organist grandmother at an early age, her musical path was mapped out working with the likes of Daniel Johnston, King Creosote and Jesca Hoop. The past 12 months have seen Lowes steeling moments to herself between trips to Sweden as a session player for Jens Lekman, not to mention touring as a permanent band member of Marina & The Diamond’s live set up.
Garnering comparisons to the sass of Debbie Harry, the airy vocals of Alison Goldfrapp through Dexys style ludes and Beatles-esque brass, this somewhat belated E.P. only reinforces Lowes’ skill for fusing classic influences through thoroughly modern composition. It’s hardly kooky, rather unveiling itself as a whole other world of something far more interesting.
“I like how songs can turn and change throughout their course,” she says. “I don’t expect songs to be verse chorus, verse chorus anymore. So I don’t attempt to write like that.”
If anything was to showcase Lowe’s unique sound, it’s E.P. opener ‘Instrumental’. Cosmic duelling sax sounds and wailing guitars clash like a pair of deers’ interlocked antlers whilst the vintage psych intro of ‘I Find You’s Bond-esque production provides a wrath-like commentary about forging your own true identity. One minute you hear Northern Soul the next squelching rhythms echo cartwheeling psychedelic keyboards.
Yet whilst Back To Creation felt like an artist breaking out on her own, All For The Dream is a coming together of musicalities with Lowes at the helm as ringleader guiding a gang of melodic troubadours and harnessing their skills into this brand new creation. Lowes would be the first to embrace the idea of this release as more ‘Sara Lowes and Players’ than anything of an individual nature “I get these wonderful opportunities to play with other people and that then inspires me and might change the way that I write.”
When those other people include The Earlies’ Christian and Nicky Madden, who could blame her? Once again recording took place at the band’s Colne, Lancashire studio with the line-up was completed by pals Richard and Neil C Young, Nath Sudders, and Gareth Maybury, having grown up with them like brothers. “To me, the E.P. sounds like a natural step from ‘Back To Creation’,” she explains. “I made the record in the same way with the same musicians – the arrangements play an important role, hopefully the only difference is me getting better at what I do.”
Sometimes 24 hours in the day isn’t enough, but then again, if there were more, Lowes would undoubtedly find ways to fill them. “The E.P. is a little aperitif, after that i’ll release this new album I’ve written” she says, “then start recording a new project I’m currently working on with a great friend of ours called Maz who sings. It’s quite theatrical.” Well of course, of Ms Lowes we’d expect nothing less.
“Clever art pop” Uncut
“With a voice somewhere between Alison Goldfrapp and Joni Mitchell, and songs that veer between folk, Brill Building pop and Dexys Midnight Runners-esque soul, Sara Lowes is a curious proposition.” Q