Holly ‘Låpsley’ Fletcher first left an impression on me with her vocals and production on ‘Station’ and ‘Painter’. With funding from PRS for Music Foundation she has been able to develop her minimal but stunning electronic production, vocal experimentation and live setup.
‘Station’ is delicate and emotionally powerful. Låpsley uses her own vocals, pitched down, as harmonies to create the sound of an androgynous voice. The track’s vocals grow throughout; the lyrics “Cause I could walk you back to the station / Talk about our own frustrations” are chopped and layered, becoming the main focus.
On the surface ‘Painter’ has a simple structure, with similar layered vocals and delicate repetitive instrumentation. However this works to create a wonderfully melodic and hypnotising track.
On first listen I remember thinking there must be more than one person on ‘Falling Short’, from Låpsley’s 2015 Understudy EP, but she has created this illusion by utilising one of her main techniques, manipulating and layering her own voice. The space created by the downbeat, minimal production is filled by Lapsley’s dreamy vocals and soulful tones, which will warm you from the inside.
Låpsley explores new boundaries in Long Way Home, but the more commercial tracks are a bit too obvious. ‘Operator’ sounds like a disco inspired soul track and ‘Cliff’ touches base with tropical house. ‘Hurt Me’ revisits the minimalist trip-hop style Låpsley has refined, with the synth and bass dropping immediately. This track is much more up-beat and the vocals are deeper with a more intricate rhythm breakdown. Låpsley’s vocals are strong, without being too overpowering, conveying much more confidence.
Låpsley’s vocal experimentation has earned her plenty comparisons to James Blake, the XX, London Grammar and Lorde, not to mention her label-mate Adele. However, it is her personality that helps to set her apart in a heavily populated field. At her recent gig in Bristol she sparked laughs in the audience with bold comments and admitted she was about to play a track she likes even though ‘she should like them all’.
Despite sharing writing and production credits with XL Recording’s in-house producer Rodaidh McDonald, Paul O’Duffy (known for his work with Amy Winehouse) and Mura Masa, Låpsley said in a recent interview that if she walks into a studio and someone has already written something for her, she will walk straight back out – She is very much the creator of her musical destiny.
Ultimately, Long Way Home is an autobiography of emotions, events and exploration. It may not be the most lyrically complex album but Låpsley has the ability to communicate a deeper range of emotions through her haunting vocals combined with minimal production. Her technical abilities are not to be questioned, particularly for someone of only 19.