“London’s Leaving Me” by Lorna Offers Uplifting Reverie

11 Feb

Lorna is a six-piece band based in Nottingham, England and led by husband and wife singer/songwriters Mark Rolfe and Sharon Cohen-Rolfe. The band performs precise, melodic indie-pop and folk, which even while making liberal use of strings and other orchestral elements, sometimes borders on lo-fi.

The band’s latest release is London’s Leaving Me. The album cover is a photo of a typical London fog, obscuring all but a couple of streetlights glowing through the mist. One imagines taking a walk, bundled up against the chill and perhaps feeling a sense of melancholy. That more or less describes the feeling that runs through this nine-song set.

Sharon and Mark make beautiful music together. (I wonder how many times one of their friends has said that with a sly grin on his or her face?) But many of the songs have a hint of sadness, or at least wistfulness as one reflects on his or her life.

At its core, though, Lorna’s music is honest, never over-produced or schmaltzy. And it’s perfect for the quiet of a Saturday or Sunday morning, before others are up and you are relishing the peacefulness before the hectic day begins.

London’s Leaving Me opens with a thing of beauty, a five-minute track called “Like Alastair Sims.” Strings and subtle synths create a sustained soundscape, layered with bells, chiming guitar and fragile, crystalline vocals. The song slowly unfolds like the early morning light prior to a sunrise. The title references the late Scottish actor, Alastair Sims.

“Wayne Mills” demonstrates the band’s ability to create a great piece of mid-tempo indie pop that might remind you of Belle & Sebastian. There’s a prominent bass line and some jangly guitar, together with strings and synths. The lead break features flute and trumpet solos.

Jumping to track 5, “Smothered in Hugs” is a cover of the Guided by Voices song. The vocals on this tune are very lo-fi, with Mark and Sharon trading the lead at times, in addition to harmonizing.

The title track, “London’s Leaving Me,” is an excellent mid-tempo indie pop-rock tune. Layers include ringing guitars, a dynamic bass line, plenty of strings, and harmonized vocals. It’s catchy.

As often happens, I very much like the song that closes London’s Leaving Me. Stately and halting, this elegant composition features beautiful rolling waves of sound and exquisite harmonies. The song ends with a long, subtle, almost droning trail-out — like a London fog that seems impossibly deep. All in all, this is a very nice album for those mellow moments in your life.

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