Dear Lara, the musical moniker of David Lan, is a gentle project that has impressed us in the past. And with new EP ‘Cape North’, Lan continues to prove why he is one of the unsung stars of the indie folk circuit.
Acoustic musicianship is a very tricky thing: you have to get just the right amount of musical input or the whole thing sounds busy and muddled. Lan runs no risks of that on the EP, showing his prowess as an acoustic musician. The EP opens with a momentary ambient cascade of acoustic sound that flirts with this idea of muddled sounds, before leading off into opening track ‘Plush’ which shows the perfect balance between acoustic sounds and vocals with a slight echo.
The rest of the EP continues the correct musical balance. It’s a very withdrawn EP, using instrumentation sparingly and quite shy about embellishing the acoustic guitar sections. But this helps to accentuate the vocalwork, highlighting Lan’s talent as a lyricist and not just a songwriter. The sombre tone of the EP provides some deep and heartfelt lyrics that would get lost in the mix if any more instrumentation were added.
It also allows for very simple melodic hooks to take hold of you, such as on second track ‘Darkest Before Dawn’. Lan’s harmonious refrain of “you are my last thought in the evening” seems also mocking after the fourth listen, as you realise that the melody has become stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
This emphasis on lyricism makes for a very unique approach to producing ways of hooking the listener. Aside from the memorable melodies of ‘Darkest Before Dawn’, there is one particularly noticeable hook that sits comfortably awkward in the midst of ‘Girl In My Head’. The EP’s sense of withdrawn neuroticism is in full flow by the time the track plays out, so the surprise of hearing Lan uttering the line “a long walk, fuck, and then fall asleep” is enough to hook even the most passive of listeners. Did this gentle soul really just say that?
‘Cape North’ is an opportunity for Lan to present himself as one of the indie circuit’s finest lyricists, with a knack for songwriting and a gift for even the most unconventional hooks. It’s a relaxing listen with moments that engage you and stop you from becoming disinterested. If you only listen to one of our recommendations this week, make it this one: buy this EP.
The EP will be available for purchase from the Dear Lara bandcamp and on iTunes from today.