In 2010 LoneLady (aka Julie Campbell) tore up the post-punk scene with her debut album ‘Nerve Up’, cementing her place as a self-made, artistic musician who had attracted the attention of both NME and The Guardian. Flash forward to late last year and the release of follow-up single ‘Groove it Out’ and it’s easy to see why new album ‘Hinterland’ has been long-awaited. Like a wave, it crashes over the mainstream, propelling Lonelady into more colourful territories than ever before.
At first listen it’s easy to dismiss ‘Groove it Out’ as simply a song created to dance to. ‘Got to, got to groove it out’ Campbell sings to the funk inspired keyboard and drum machines. But first listens can be deceptive, and this is a clear example. Delve beneath the catchy beat and you’ll hear a song redolent of the lonely wilderness, reclusive inner landscapes (expressed through lyrics such as ‘I touch a mirror and go inwards’) and the stark post-industrial atmosphere of LoneLady’s home of Manchester.
LoneLady – Groove it Out
Indeed, it is impossible to ignore the Mancunian overtones of the album. As Campbell herself described it “an inescapably cement-coloured North of England psyche” runs through the music like a heartbeat. It seems inevitable that ‘Hinterland’ (from the German meaning ‘the country behind) must draw comparisons to older regiments of Manchester bands, more notably Joy Division. In songs such as new single ‘Bunkerpop’ and ‘Silvering’ the chiming guitar and drumbeat are curiously reminiscent of ‘Disorder’. Far from wanting to be just another musician trapped in the past however, Lonelady twists the distinct melodies and infuses them with funk inspired by bands such as Funkadelic, while underpinning it all with a deliciously immediate post-punk sensibility. In songs such as title track ‘Hinterland’ there is a sense of keen yearning, of LoneLady reaching out to the listener. The result is haunting and yet strikingly beautiful (‘I’m trying just to find my place/A human frame was never built for such strength’).
LoneLady – Bunkerpop
‘Remember’ she murmurs on ‘Flee!’ But it seems LoneLady is in no danger. ‘Hinterland’, with its powerful surges of funk and haunting vocals, is not an easy album to forget.
By Kelly Beestone