[Album Review] Lydia Ainsworth- Right From Real
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by Mark Anthony Brennan
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Release Date: September 29th, 2014
Label: Arbutus Records

Given her background in composing scores for film, it should come as no surprise that Lydia Ainsworth creates such breathtakingly evocative music. What is surprising is that the album that represents her full-length debut should come off sounding more like a career masterwork. The execution here is so seamlessly perfect that it impossible to find one fault (other than the fact that the record is too short).

Ainsworth is influenced by the likes of classical, choral, Baltic and other world music, but filters it all through her take on contemporary music with electronics and studio effects. You could say the track “Malachite” features a dance beat (albeit a dark one), but when the song hits you with its echoing vocals and choir-like backing harmonies you realize this is far from standard fare. Likewise with “Moonstone” which has an electro rhythm reminiscent of OMD in its heyday, but then it throws you off by starting out with a stuttering, broken-up vocal delivery and then later serenading you with Danny Elfman-style cooing.

With each song being so carefully and richly crafted it is difficult to pick out any standouts. “White Shadows”, however, is particularly beautiful with its gorgeous atmospherics and inventive combination of both natural instruments (cello) and electronics. “The Truth” is also notable for Ainsworth’s deft cinematic ability to raise the drama through a combination of swooping orchestral flourishes and her creative use of backing vocals.

Ainsworth could be favourably compared to the British greats Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, but that would only be telling part of the story as her idiosyncratic approach to synthesizing the various musical styles she draws upon results in a sound that is uniquely hers. And therein lies her special talent — you may at first be drawn in by the apparent familiarity of the sounds but you’d be hard pressed at the end of the day to make a ready comparison to anything else you’ve ever heard.