If her lyrics are to be believed, Lucy Kitt doesn’t want to be here any more. She wants to be in Laurel Canyon. And who can blame her. As I burst into my flat a few hours ago, windswept and dripping on this cold December evening, I too was craving warmer climes. I wasn’t in the best of moods as I settled down to review her recent ‘Where I Belong’ EP, but as the first chords of the title track rang brightly around my living room and her sweet but assured vocals sang from the speakers, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders and a warm optimism replaced my previously simmering discontent.
The six songs pass in an all-too-brief 18 minutes. They form a cohesive, stripped-down country-folk collection that showcases her honeyed spoon of a voice, backed by only acoustic guitar and a rarely-used harmonica. The sparse instrumentation leaves her voice centre-stage, exactly where it should be. She sounds both innocent and yet in possession of an ageless wisdom, drawing immediate comparison to that contemporary denizen of introspective folk, Laura Marling. Kitt is more optimistic than Marling, still believing that a soul-freeing utopia is just around the corner. Each and every song is pervaded with restlessness; a need to move on, from relationships, through life and to new and exciting lands.
‘Laurel Canyon’ is a prime example of this. Kitt seems to consider it her spiritual home and it is easy to see why. Everyone is aware of its unrivalled musical heritage; it has housed such folk luminaries as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, whose influence can be glimpsed throughout the E.P. It feels false to continue with an arbitrary role-call of highlights – each song is as strong as the last. Indeed, there is no real variety to speak of between the songs, but Kitt has clearly found her natural mode of expression and 18 minutes of it is barely enough. “Loving and leaving is all I’m learning” she admits in the closing track ‘Eagle’, summarising the tone of the whole album far more succinctly than I. But that modest phrase plays down the vastness of the subject, one that we all eventually have bitter experience of, and it is Kitt’s undying (but never excessive) optimism that gives her songs such universality, such ability to connect with the listener.
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As far as I am aware, Kitt remains unsigned: a circumstance that, with enough exposure, will surely change. ‘Where I Belong’ can be streamed and downloaded here. If you like what you hear then pass it on, and maybe Kitt will end up in Laurel Canyon sooner than she thinks.