I first heard Lo Carmen’s music on her 2009 album It Walks Like Love and was immediately taken by her ability to weave beautiful, otherworldly sounds out of indie rock, dark psych folk and dreamy gothic country. A solo EP and a collaborative album with her father Peter Head later and Carmen has finally released a new full length album which solidifies her talent and further distils it to her core songwriting and a sympathetic musical framework.
Working with members of The Holy Soul, Mess Hall, The Cruel Sea and The Maladies, Carmen managed to record the album on a brief return visit to Sydney from her current base in the USA. It sounds like the necessity of time played a part in the sound of the album as it has a strong live and unprocessed feel. The drums are present and organic while the guitars shimmer and twang like circling spirits. Garage rock of the Velvet Underground variety is omnipresent in the jangle and raw production where every rattle and buzz is part of the mix. Of course the spotlight is on that voice of Carmen’s. It’s a curious instrument, half whispered, half cooed that brings to mind Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy Birthday’, Hope Sandoval’s (Mazzy Star) heavy lidded, hypnotic meditations and a smokey jazz chanteuse in an empty late-night bar. She pours melancholy into a dreamy, David Lynch-styled sonic world. ‘Green Eyes’ aches and yearns with a blurred yet vivid intensity, drawing you in deep. The slow-burn of ‘Travelling Man’ gives way to a comparatively rock n roll ‘Every Man’s Son’ with it’s gentle funk groove (think Lambchop and Tindersticks) and Carmen’s incantations providing the energy and direction.
Records like these tend to be slow growers. At first you might focus on Carmen’s voice and the drifting, dreamy aspect of the music but given time there are details that emerge, particularly the guitar of Sam Worrad which adds sparkle to the more soulful songs such as ‘I Cut My Own Hair’ and then, just as effectively, he buries his notes in warm and distant layers of distortion.
Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You) inhabits it’s own netherworld of woozy, ghostly musicality; the perfect setting for Carmen’s voice and songs. She adds soul to slowcore and mystery to melancholy and the result is an album that will draw you in deeper and deeper with each listen as you fall under her atmospheric spell.