Artist: Louise Patricia Crane | Album: Deep Blue | Genre: Progressive rock, Art-pop, Psychedelic rock | Year: 2020
From: UK | Label: Peculiar Doll Records
For fans of: Kate Bush, ‘80s and later King Crimson, Pink Floyd
I’ve been indulging in the lighter side of progressive rock lately. I’ve got a big backlog of black and death metal I need to cover, but progressive folk and art-pop have been scratching my musical itches lately. While not strictly a pop album by any means, Louise Patricia Crane’s solo debut, Deep Blue, draws heavily from acts like The Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush. The music is rife with psychedelic Pink Floyd-isms, and folk influences are liberally scattered throughout this record. King Crimson guitarist and vocalist Jakko Jakszyk was recruited for this project, and his distinct playing style and backing vocals augment the music.
“Deity” is a strong opener and features some of the most obvious Kate Bush allusions. The introductory guitar line has a lovely late-‘60s jangle to it, and the chorus is distinctive and catchy. Jakszyk’s expansive guitar and the steady, groovy basswork give this track a soaring feeling. In contrast, “Snake Oil” begins with a pounding tribal rhythm and wispy flute. Crane’s multilayered vocals lend a creepy aura, and the verse’s main melody is a variation on the chorus of “Deity”. The distinct use of percussion and flute make this track reminiscent of some of Peter Gabriel’s solo work.
Drawing influences from Gilmour-era Pink Floyd, “Painted World” is a slower song with obvious folk motifs, including bits Celtic violin in the chorus. The tempo remains slower on “Cascading”, though new wave and ‘80s baroque pop are the primary influences here. This is one of few moments on the album where a song overstays its welcome, but there are good ideas here, nonetheless.
Deep Blue’s title track is a downbeat piece that features piano, strings, and Crane’s haunting vocals. From its plain opening, this song builds to a downright-cinematic conclusion. “Ophelia” is a dramatic ballad that sounds like a midway point between Jethro Tull and Genesis’s variations on folky prog with a flute. Its spooky midsection eventually gives way to a powerful guitar solo.
Church bells open “Isolde”, and this song’s quiet first two minutes explode into a striking wall of wordless vocals, echoing guitar, and thundering bass. The closing “The Eve of the Hunter” features more sharp quiet-loud contrasts, and the marching rhythm and looming guitars lend a menacing feel. This song is the perfect encapsulation of all this album’s strengths.
Deep Blue features an engaging synthesis of progressive songwriting and instrumentation, along with many of the aesthetic trappings of ‘80s art pop. The spacy, psychedelic textures support the dreamlike atmosphere on many of the tracks. This record has a beautiful, lush feel to it, and Crane managed to assemble a brilliant crew to back her up.