Photography: Jessica Grace Neal / @jessicagraceneal


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I Love Live Events @ Sound 27/9/18

Sound’s Basement is a great space for a gig. The small, dimly-lit area invites feelings of comfort and inclusivity, as if all attendees are smug with the knowledge that they’re on to something before everybody else. With LAUREL, and opening act ANOTHER SKY, there’s not so much a feeling of smugness, however; everyone seems to accept that they’re lucky to be here with these two artists. Another Sky quickly impress as frontwoman Catrin Vincent’s powerful vocals instantly bring all attention to the stage. Her projection blends dramatically with the band’s atmospheric sound and they lock in your attention. Their songs oscillate impressively from the quiet to the climactic.

As Londoner Laurel Arnell-Cullen takes to the stage, her piercing vocals leave you almost speechless. Immediately you’re mentally comparing her to the best pop singers: Paloma Faith, Florence Welch et al. Her style, however, is more Lana Del Rey; her sound often bends between the heartfelt and country-esque, to pure, melodic pop.

Lyrical themes of love, lust and jealousy dominate Laurel’s debut album DOGVIOLET, made all the more raw in that they are unabashedly personal. Like any great songwriter, you’re elevated from the real and instead positioned into her world. Here you feel in close proximity to the people and situations she is singing about. This is especially heightened with her solo duo of Sun King and Empty Kisses. These stripped-back, delicate tracks dreamily echo around the room, the ballads mixing effortlessly with her more pop moments; her songs are still buzzing around your head long after they’re played.

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Laurel has a clever knack of creating songs that feel cinematic, like The xx stylings of All Star and Same Mistakes, where they would fit perfectly in the closing scenes of a coming-of-age film. Lovesick continues this feeling and is a tune so catchy you’re left singing along even when you’re not 100 per cent on the lyrics. Adored is possibly the highlight. It’s pure pop; the song you didn’t realise you needed with its catchy chorus, rhythms and bassy undertones.

The feeling of inclusivity that’s been around all night becomes even more intensified from Laurel’s mid-song anecdotes, her almost emotional gratitude to people singing all her lyrics back to her, and her beckoning of the crowd to be as close as possible to her. Like her lyrics, it’s intimate. The relationship between crowd and act is broken down and instead feels more like a collective, an entwined experience of gratitude through a love for music. These days, phrases like ‘ones to watch’ are too loosely branded about in an age where music feels unlimited. Yet, it’s the beauty of live music to know that phrases like such belong to certain people. Writing all elements of her songs, Laurel is one of the people that deserves this title, and seeing her live will surely convince you, too.

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