[Album Review] Lydia Ainsworth- Darling of the Afterglow
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Release Date: March 31st, 2017
Label: Arbutus Records

If we were to create a spectrum with the adventurous music of say, St. Vincent, at one end and the more radio-friendly, conventional sounds of say, Rihanna, at the other then based on Lydia Ainsworth’s debut album ‘Right from Real’  there no doubt that she belongs on the cooler end of the scale. So, based on the inclusion of a few tracks that ring of contemporary R&B, you might assume that with ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’ Ainsworth is shifting to the other end of the scale. And you’d be right. And wrong.

There’s no question that tracks such as “I Can Feel It All” and “Into the Blue” have that modern soul/pop feel that wouldn’t be out of place blaring out of your car radio. But Ainsworth is an artist with standards and, no matter what the style or genre, she demands the music to rise to those standards. Despite its club synths and cooing harmonies “I Can Feel It All” actually has a complex, ever-changing structure, and “Into the Blue” has some weird vibes and twists to it. This is by no means a nosedive into pop banality.

Fact is, the electronic/singer-songwriter isn’t watering down her power at all, instead she is strengthening it by expanding out and taking in more territory. There are still the near-experimental moments, such as the atonal jazz passages in “Nightime Watching”, but her palette is broader now, even while her artistic integrity stays intact.

Whether she is murmuring like a cherub, chirping poetically or taking her voice to the heavenly heights, Ainsworth infuses her character into everything she sings, adding yet another dimension of distinction. As with all great singer-songwriters she articulates her lyrics as only she can, transforming mere words into expressions of the sublime.