Most artists with reputations as esteemed as that of Ana da Silva don't wait two and a half decades to put out a solo album. But then, da Silva has never been particularly predictable or traditional. After the Raincoats' first hiatus in 1984, she was perfectly content to largely turn her back on music and concentrate on painting and working in an antique shop, until the band reunited for 1996's Looking in the Shadows (after which the Raincoats disbanded again). This mix of indifference to outside expectations and artistic independence means that da Silva fans don't get to hear new music from her as often as they'd like, but when she does reappear, it's cause for celebration. On the surface, da Silva's eclectic, mostly electronic debut solo album, The Lighthouse, is a far cry from her former band's bristling post-punk. "Disco Ball" recalls Pram's bubbly, wobbly luminosity, which makes sense, since that band's sound is like a missing link between British art-punk and electronica. The quirky, almost dance-pop of "In Awe of a Painting" is reminiscent of the way Björk pairs her very human voice and thoughtful lyrics with electronic settings; the urgent, bustling title track suggests the kind of music David Byrne might make if he were a she; and with its passion and flair for the dramatic, "Modhina" feels like a distant relation of PJ Harvey and John Parish's Dance Hall at Louse Point. But, despite these reference points, The Lighthouse is completely, distinctively da Silva. Though her singing is sweeter here than it was in the Raincoats, her delivery is unmistakable, and, more importantly, this album has the spontaneous, self-taught feel that made the Raincoats' work so vital. Da Silva wrote, performed, and recorded The Lighthouse almost entirely on her own, and it feels homespun in the best possible way: listening to tracks like "Friend" and "Two Windows Over the Wings," it's easy to envision her crafting them at home with her "digital instrument" and sequencer. The album's electronics feel very organic, not because da Silva is trying to make them sound like "real" instruments, but because they take on a life of their own, particularly on the instrumental "Hospital Window," which captures the feel of resting and getting back your strength. The Lighthouse's intimate, personal feeling reaches levels of splendid isolation on "Running in the Rain" and "Climbing Walls," which celebrates "the shimmer of a leaf" with the detail that could only come from someone who is a painter and a poet. Though it would be great if da Silva resurfaced more than once every decade, as long as her work is as striking and pure as The Lighthouse is, it's well worth the wait.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares