Lucy Schwartz’s first full length studio album reveals how her view of life has changed since producing an EP album in her early teens. Now at the age of 20, Schwartz believes that she has something musically to offer.
You’ve heard her voice everywhere, on soundtracks for a plethora of television shows and the film “Shrek Forever After.” She seems to be a five year overnight sensation. Now that she has more media exposure, you can put a face to the voice. But don’t mistake this artist for one of those sugar-pop singers. Schwartz writes and arranges her own music and her musical influences shine all over these tracks without taking over.
Take for instance “Morning Calls.” It sounds as if it’s a lost track from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” With overlapping harmonies with guitar as the prominent accompaniment, you could imagine John and Paul coming up with this, but no it’s Lucy and the album just gets better from there.
At first listen you may not know what to make of “Take a Picture,” but stay with it. The interesting musical arrangement makes the sound unusual to the ear like “the sound that [you] hear inside.” Here Schwartz successfully recreates that pitter-patter of your heart when you’re around that special someone. It’s also far too short of a track. You’ll keep pressing replay on your mp3 player with this one.
Just when you think that there may be a lull you hear “Someone to Save Me.” Thought-provoking cannot be overly used to define the lyrics in this song. The emotions are also subtly heightened with an urgent guitar and symbiotic background vocals. The sense of urgency in Schwartz’s voice is adamant making this track an unusual roller-coaster ride of emotions.
The piano shines in “Gone Away.” It makes the track poignant and nostalgic without romanticizing the simple truths that are revealed in the lyrics. Then there’s “Shadow Man.” This song simply rocks. It’s the track that Bonnie Raitt wished she wrote. Tough lyrics with an in-your-face, bluesy arrangement will make think that this track is a cover song of Muddy Waters or Etta James. Yes, it has that much soul.
If you’re a sucker for good harmonica and solid musical arrangement, then “Those Days” must be in your mp3 player. Here Schwartz bypasses her musical heroes as she seamlessly weaves solid storytelling with underused and under-appreciated instruments.
What’s great about this album is that every emotion is expressed and sometimes duplicated, but never sounds repetitive. Schwartz never takes the easy way out by overtly repeating melodies. Instead you are forced to take each song on its own terms and she makes you like it to the point where you’ll be singing “Life in Letters” on the street out loud, with a big smile on your face and won’t care who sees.
Essentially Schwartz has created an album that you must own. Her short pieces of narrative episodes will musically entice you and draw you in. Perhaps with albums like Lucy Schwartz’s “Life in Letters” there may be hope yet for the music business.