Album Review / Lau: Unplugged

Lau are not necessarily the easiest band to get into. The masterful trio of O’Rourke-Drever-Green have created their own sphere of slightly eccentric and experimental music that sometimes comes across as an acid trip mutation of Scottish folk.

In a word, they are just brilliant. But it might take a few turns before you’re really into them. Or at least it did for me, but by the time of their previous release, Midnight and Closedown, I had already surrendered. My review of that fab album is here: https://celtbritfolkmusic.net/2019/02/13/album-review-lau-midnight-and-closedown/

And now, then, Unplugged, which comes quite literally in the wake of its predecessor: it’s a live recording from the Midnight and Closedown tour in ealry 2020 (just before the you know what), with the music recorded direct from the mixing board; there are zero audience sounds on this album. Joe Jackson’s 1980’s album Big World was made in a similar way but had only new songs on it while Unplugged features mostly songs from Midnight

…which makes the concept seem a bit, well, strange. Who wants acoustic versions of tunes you just bought on their latest album?

But it does make sense, it really does. The Lau studio soundscapes are painstakingly constructed, detailed, layered and innovative, concealing the fact that it’s really three folk musicians pulling the sudio strings behind the curtain.

When you strip away everything else, you notice three things:
– their amazing musicianship
– the tunes themselves need no embellishment as they are strong ”naked” as well
– they play together beautifully as a band – this element is the one that’s not always evident in the studio versions.

So even if you already have Midnight and Closedown, do check this out. The atmosphere and colours are just deliciously that much different from the studio tracks, and it’s rewarding to hear how the songs come alive in a new light. Right now, She Put On Her Headphones and Dark Secret are playing, and I must admit I prefer these super sparse readings to the studio versions. The spine tingles.

So hey, thanks guys, well done, again.

*****
Lau Unplugged is available on the Lau Bandcamp site where your purchase benefits the artists directly:
https://lau-music.bandcamp.com/album/unplugged

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