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Lucy Rose transforms her pain into healing on This Ain't the Way You Go Out

"This Ain't The Way You Go Out"

Release date: 19 April 2024
Lucy Rose – This Ain't The Way You Go Out – Album Artwork
16 April 2024, 10:30 Written by Michael Hoffman

In the last few minutes of Lucy Rose's fifth record, the voice of her baby son, Otis, is heard over piano and bass, innocently lending insight into the difficult four years that led to the album's creation.

In wake of extreme physical pain from a rare pregnancy-induced osteoporosis diagnosis, Lucy Rose found light in a new creative direction amidst a long recovery process – not only as a mother, but also as an artist who finally has the strength to record and perform again. A departure from her last album – the somber, folk-tinged No Words Left – her latest offering is full of buoyant jazz and processes her healing through the lens of motherhood with renewed vigour and hope.

Unlike the guitar-centered folk rock of some of Lucy Rose's earlier records, This Ain't the Way to Go Out is largely piano-driven, taking the jazz-inflected moments from her third release, Something's Changing, and developing those sounds as the focal point, leading to a refreshingly confident and balanced record with hopefulness that belies the questioning and worry she faced with her diagnosis. The production on album opener "Light as Grass" feels as bright and airy as its title suggests, with staccatoed piano and bass that punctuate Rose's vocals and highlight the lyrical contrasts throughout the album as she sings, "Because I saw you light as grass floating high above the atmosphere / And I saw you falling fast...hiding from reality."

Lucy Rose takes more chances than ever before on the record, carving a bigger, bolder sound, and eschewing comfort for risk. The payout is well worth it, inviting new and longtime fans into some of her most impressive work yet. Here, Rose sets a new standard for herself, surpassing it with confidence and ease.

The project is indebted to Joni Mitchell's legacy of jazz experimentation, finding Rose similarly breaking from the confines of her folk rock and pop roots, exploring looser song structures, employing more soul, R&B, and breakbeat drums, and ultimately falling into a groove that seems lighter and stronger than any of her previous work. Crunchy, distorted guitars and electronics cut through some of the more delicate moments, especially on the rollicking prog-rock of "Sail Away" and "The Racket." Both tracks are a perfect fusion of Rose's influences, full of frenetic crescendos reminiscent of Radiohead's In Rainbows, Kid A, and Amnesiac. These well-placed junctures never seam heavy-handed; rather, they are a testament to Rose's willingness to experiment in the studio and let her newfound sound take her voice to greater heights.

The varying peaks and valleys in tempo are a true strength throughout, along with Rose's willingness to give her words space to breath as she tempers the lightness of the production with writing borne of extreme physical discomfort and pain: "I don't wanna feel it no more / I'm begging for a different point of view," she sings in a delicate falsetto on "No More," a slow-tempo track that gives space for Rose's vocals to shine. On "Whatever You Want," she bluntly shares, "How can something like this happen to me," and instrumental tracks like "Interlude I" showcase beautiful string arrangements that slowly build until we're left floating above all the pain below.

Title track "This Ain't the Way" is an honest portrayal of the self-doubt Rose felt about a time when doctors didn't have a diagnosis for her unique case of osteoporosis. Still, she contrasts the blunt realities of life with optimism: "I've got a whole lot of hurt,” but “I got life on my side...I got a whole lot of love.” Yet even when she claims "I don't believe in myself anymore," she’s hopeful, knowing it's "been a hell of a journey.” In much the same way, we’re left reveling in an album that is grand in ambition and execution – a sweeping journey of highs and lows worth celebrating.

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