You may (or may not) know that I have been following the career of Lyla Foy for a little while. First hearing her supporting Tom Williams And The Boat at The Hope in Brighton, then doing the same for Saint Saviour (as WALL) at the same venue a year or so later, before seeing her at the first (for me) headline gig proper, under the Lyla Foy moniker, at The Lexington last December.
Over those performances I witnessed a talent grow with confidence and a musical style that developed like persistent shoots that refuse to be held back by the concrete and rubble above them.
The restrained industrial rhythms and percussion which underpinned the delicate tales of heart-break, were intertwined with simple riffs and electronic pulses. These delicate saplings have now bloomed into the hooks and delicate melodies that they promised, and the whole sound is far greater and complete than where it began- but the memories of the original seeds are still present.
Lyla Foy’s début album, Mirrors The Sky, was released on Monday (17/3/14), and it has been in my ears ever since. Such is Lyla’s writing style, that tracks that I had only heard the once at The Lexington gig, jumped out of the album as recognisable tunes. The musical hooks and her turn of phrase within the tracks making them instantly familiar. Seeing a band two days after an album release, knowing that the set would largely be taken from this album can put a bit of pressure on listener and band- as we all like to look forward and respond to THOSE favourite bits of our beloved songs. I saw no problems here, however, as the album was already a firm favourite.
After the 2hr train journey from work to London, I caught the bus from Victoria to Waterloo, which allowed me to witness those famous London sights and cross the river in all it’s Lit up beauty- a stunning city is London, don’t let anyone tell you different. I met up with my mate Adam by the imax and we arrived at The Purcell Room at The Southbank Centre at about 8.45. Unfortunately this meant I missed support Grace Banks, which was a pity.
The Purcell Room is an all seating, intimate venue- the Southbank Blurb states that is most suitable for spoken word, chamber music and lectures, and indeed when the lights went down, the band entered from back of the stage- through a large soundproof curtain, and the ripples of applause had died down, and the band settled and plugged in- the venue was ‘pin drop’ silent.
My immediate thought was that this would be a perfect place for some of the tracks off Shoestring EP to be played, such is their hushed tones and intimacy. So it pleased me immensely that the first track was Left To Wonder off that ep. Beautiful. The silence in the room was fairly intimidating, so much so that there was, initially, only polite applause at the end of each track, and no applause at the beginning of the tracks as they were announced. I thought I’d change this, so after the second track ‘Impossible’- one that I had remembered fro The Lexington show, Lyla introduced the next track, former WALL single ‘Magazine’- I clapped. Fortunately, others took up my lead, and this usual gig formality had been restored.
Up next was one of my album favourites- ‘Only Human’, with a chorus that wont leave you, and restrained pop nature it could be a future single. Another track off the brilliant Shoestring EP, ‘Place Too Low’ followed. This is one of the first WALL tracks I’d heard as demo a couple of years ago, and. Like the whole Shoestring EP, is just beautifully unique. On the train home after The Lexington gig, I listened to the EP on loop all the way- I couldn’t find anything to follow it, it leaves you in a place that nothing else would do. Go get it HERE
‘Feather Tongue’ is another of those Lexington tracks, it has a quirky, almost off kilter, synth hook, that slightly off-sets the beauty to produce a strong track, and it is no surprise that it was used as the track to promote the album online, and on radio- BBC 6 music playing it a number of times, as did Simon Raymonde on his Amazing Radio show. Simon featured WALL on his radio show, and you can find Simon Raymonde’s WALL session HERE.
Lyla Foy’s debut single on Sub Pop, ‘Easy’ was the first track I’d heard under the new name ‘Lyla Foy’ after WALL, and it was the live drumming (as opposed to WALL’s drum machine sounds), that surprised me the most on that first listen. WALL’s three piece of Lyla, Dan Bell and Oli Deakin had been joined by a drummer in the form of Andy Goodall- the live drums really helped to fill out the WALL sound, and give us the complete band we have today.
It sounded just as grand here. Get the limited 7” Single at one of the shows.
Album title containing track ‘Rumour’- “Take this ring from my finger, see how it mirrors the sky”, was played before another oldie- ‘No Secrets’, also from the album. This was another soundcloud demo I’d heard around the same time as ‘Place Too Low’- and is currently fighting in my head for title of ‘Earliest Lyla Foy Track I Heard’. A stunning low pulse of a track that really drags you in.
Set closer ‘Honeymoon’ was denied me by my bladder. The room being such, that if you leave, you can only come back at a break in song. You can, however, watch the performance on a little screen outside. Although I was chatting to the Usher about Lyla, as she was saying how much she was enjoying the performance. Song ended, and in I went, to see the band retreat behind the curtain.
It wasn’t a long wait though, before Lyla appeared, picked up her guitar, and treated us to a solo performance of ‘Someday’ off the album. Without the rest of the band, the track was given a very different feel. The effect on the sound of the guitar reminded me of something- Adam hit the nail on the head, by saying it sounded like ‘It’ll End In Tears’ era This Mortal Coil. Indeed, initially I didn’t recognise it. I was just blown away by how stunning it sounded.
The band then returned for the final track, Lyla saying, tongue in cheek, that they were ‘quite the covers band now’- and performed ‘Something On Your Mind’, which was a song originally performed by Karen Dalton (who, I see, was part of the same scene as Fred Neil- writer of the classic ‘Dolphins’, which I love. And will now have to look at the scene a little closer. Thanks Lyla.)
Lyla is dynamic in the way she adapts tracks and allows the live performances of these to grow and develop, backed by the excellent musicianship of her band and writing skills of Foy, Deakin and Bell- she is certainly going places. I urge all to buy the album, and see the band immediately- you will be rewarded.
It was lovely to see Lyla, Dan and Andy after the show, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing them in Brighton at The Great Escape in May.
Lyla Foy’s Website www.lylafoy.com
Lyla Foy’s Soundcloud