Kelsey Lu’s ‘Blood’ is an album voracious in appetite and ideas. Its scope is broad, its palate lush and brimming with vibrant colour.
All the more impressive that this is the exploratory cellist’s debut record, though it does have all the hallmarks of a young artist unanchored by stylistic dogma.
Whatever impression the production credits may give – which include bro-step pioneer Skrillex and posh boy raver Jamie xx – it’s best to leave those preconceptions behind when engaging with the record itself, which feels entirely of Lu’s own creation. ‘Blood’ is closer to the work of her entourage, artists like Sampha, Kelela and Dev Hynes, with whom she's collaborated on several projects, while retaining a sense of utter singularity.
Experiencing this album is to be kept in a state of continual guesswork, guesses which are inevitably proved false. Airy torch songs shift into the sounds of folkish twang, right through to a surge of electronic ticks-and-clacks that you’d usually associate with modern pop – like on the single ‘Due West’.
At the heart of this wonderful, tangled thing is ‘I’m Not in Love’, Kelsey Lu’s take on the 10cc – yes, 10cc – song of the same name. The original, though it might initially seem somewhat corny, actually has this tremendously cosmic spaciousness to it, which Lu heightens even further and transforms the song into something practically hymnal. It’s a remarkable feat.
Much has been made of Kelsey Lu’s work with, and endorsement from, artists such as Solange and Florence And The Machine, but her growing reputation need not be restricted to that of big-name association.
What her aesthetic speaks to is that of the mystical, but where words like “fairy” are often associated with Nordic folklore, and leave little space for black bodies to live in, Kelsey Lu freely finds her own path in this magical space.
‘Blood’ is a work that speaks for itself, an album that’s boundless, and restlessly pursues the ideas of its creator.
Words: Noura Ikhlef
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