We Loved Her Dearly

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Sometimes rowdy, frequently playful, and brimming with spark, the debut album by Canadian pop singer Lowell (Elizabeth Lowell Boland) covers a lot of ground over its 12 tracks. From suggestive, digital sludge-pop romps like "Cloud 69" to good-natured, socially minded affirmations like the catchy cheer leading of "LGBT," We Loved Her Dearly puts the young Torontonian's variety on full display. Brought to life by a committee of producers that includes Swedish veteran Martin Terefe (Ron Sexsmith, Train, KT Tunstall) and British songwriter Paul Herman (Corinne Bailey Rae, Emeli Sande), along with several others, the album contains a host of great ideas and sounds, but with all those cooks in the kitchen, it can sometimes feel a bit unfocused. Much of the music rambles along in a state of distorted experimentalism with a mix of synths and compressed rhythms reminiscent of early MGMT, while Lowell's unique voice casually dips and dives through a variety of impressive ranges. Her more minimalist summer pop efforts on "Summertime" and "Palm Trees" are lovely and engaging, while the laid-back, midtempo charmer "The Bells" coasts along with a distant warmth and a group chorus of "where'd the beat go" that sounds dangerously close to Sparks' similar group chant from their 2002 cut "The Rhythm Thief." Meanwhile, Lowell's themes of affirmation and feminism are quite refreshing on inspiring cuts like "Words Were the Wars" and "I Love You Money." We Loved Her Dearly shows a lot of promise and there's plenty to like about Lowell's attitude and talent, but some gentle tightening of her vision would go a long way in strengthening her image.

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