For the past twelve months She Makes War has been hard at work on Little Battles, the follow up to 2010’s debut album Disarm. Music machine, onetime Tricky collaborator and singer-songwriter Laura Kidd has funded the record through Pledge Music, remaining true to her DIY path by providing fans with everything from cotton rosettes to stage props and brooches. Thankfully absconding into mass creativity territory has not deflected Kidd’s attention away from her music.
Launching with the understated ‘Intro’, the track’s clarity is testament to the album’s superior production. Working again with producer Myles Clarke, both he and Kidd surpass the (albeit professional) quality reached on Disarm. Unfortunately that’s all that can be said of ‘Intro’. Fusing typical studio background noise with a barely-there guitar melody presents the listener with a misleading introduction to an album that’s otherwise sonically straightforward.
Although Kidd occasionally draws from the layered and looped textures she uses live, the composition and tempestuous nature of Little Battles are what make this release interesting. Drawing from sobriety (‘Butterflies’), emotional disconnect (‘Delete’ and ‘Magpie Heart’) and brutally honest confession (‘In This Boat’), even at her most revealing Kidd is an empowering force to be reckoned with.
The difference between Little Battles and Disarm is clear. On its release, the main criticism of Kidd’s debut was that it has a tendency to flash uncomfortable memories of teenage immaturity in the listener’s face. Happily Little Battles completely avoids that problem. The influence of ’90s female-led rock is still blatant, but a resolution is found in the integrity and experience that come through in Kidd’s vocal. The best example of this is found in ‘Blue’, which could have easily fallen into a vat of self-pity, but instead flourishes under Kidd’s bizarrely enthralling defeatism.
Little Battles is an emotionally mature record from a technically accomplished musician. We couldn’t ask for more, but She Makes War still also provides us with some undeniably catchy alt-rock, serious potential for the future, and cotton rosettes. You can’t forget the cotton rosettes.