Contemplative solo excursion for Blood Red Shoes chanteuse Laura-Mary Carter.
Release Date: 3rd December 2021
Label: Velveteen Records
Formats: CD / Vinyl
Laura-Mary Carter is, perhaps, more familiar to At The Barrier regulars as one half of Brighton alt-rock duo Blood Red Shoes. In her Blood Red Shoes guise with band partner Steven Ansell, Laura-Mary has been touring the world for the past 17 years and the duo have, in the process, released five albums, with a sixth, Ghosts On Tape, scheduled for January 2022. Town Called Nothing is, however, Laura-Mary’s solo debut, and it will come as quite a surprise to anyone expecting more of the loud, guitar-led, almost punky sound that they’ve come to expect from Blood Red Shoes.
The inspiration for Town Called Nothing came during a between-tours sojourn in Los Angeles, during which Laura-Mary indulged her twin passions for songwriting and incessant travel. Taking the advice of a tarot reader in Venice Beach, she headed out into the wilds of Arizona to “find her heart,” and came across a ghost town with the memorable name of ‘Nothing.’ “It was simply fate,” says Laura-Mary.
Laura-Mary takes up the story of the journey that inspired her album: “It started in the real town called Nothing and then it became a sort of obsession, because it’s a completely abandoned town and I kept going back and wanting to find more of these places. Someone once told me I am a love addict and this felt the same – feeling pulled back to places, even though you know there is really nothing there.” And those sentiments are echoed repeatedly throughout Town Called Nothing, as Laura Mary sings, using varied moods of mysticism, detachment and desperation, of love, desolation and abandonment – just as she found in that old, abandoned, town that inspired her to write.
The music takes in doses of folk, alt-country, indie rock and electronica and the sound is sparse and even quite other-worldly. Laura-Mary’s vocals are emotional, ethereal and often ghostly and are, with a couple of startlingly intimate exceptions, fairly low in producer Ed Harcourt’s mix, and the overall impact recalls, as much as anything, Kate Bush in her Hounds Of Love heyday.
Blues Not My Colour gets this six-track mini-album underway; it’s a song with a nice country feel, intimate vocals, a tapping rhythm and the bass right upfront in the mix – a device that Ed H utilizes pretty consistently throughout the album. And Blues Not My Colour establishes the theme of break-up that Laura-Mary returns again and again…
The dreamy Signs is, perhaps, the album’s most other-worldly track. Synths and a loping bassline provide the background for Laura-Mary’s expression of abandonment – an emotional outburst that ends with the stoic conclusion of “Well that’s the way it goes, I suppose…” As a complete contrast, Town Called Nothing, the album’s title track is instant and upbeat, peppered with jangly reverb guitars as it tells the story of the town’s discovery and the irresistable pull that it exerted on Laura-Mary. Town Called Nothing is, probably, my favourite track on the album and I particularly like the song’s closing line: “Get in my car, let’s drive to nowhere,” which Laura sings in the most blissful of laid-back voices.
The jangly, indie feel is retained for Better on My Own, yet another break-up song, with Laura-Mary’s desire for freedom expressed in the ghostliest of voices, as if her words are swirling around inside the head of her jilted partner. The anguished, haunting, The City You Live carries the theme of separation forward, before the album is closed by the ominous Ceremony, the song on which Laura-Mary gets closest to the spirit of Kate Bush. Over a spooky bassline and a soft drumbeat, Laura-Mary sings of betrayal and regret. Her voice is distant and anguished, as if she’s singing from the very eye of a violent storm, and the song’s long, slow fade-out, drenched in howling guitar notes and quivering string effects, is positively unnerving.
Town Called Nothing is an album well worth a listen and, if you like what you hear, you may wish to pop along to a Blood Red Shoes gig when they tour early in 2022 – details are available here.
Watch the Official video for Town Called Nothing, the album’s title track, here: