Boomkat Product Review:
Lo-fi songcraft from L.A.’s Lael Neal, resting crystalline vox about love and life in the big city over glowing omnichord instrumentals
“It is the simple thing that is so hard to do. This is the paradox that musician Lael Neale has lived within throughout her development as an artist. It is the reason she became enthralled with poetry. Poems are a distillation. Lael says, “this challenge to winnow away what is unessential is the most maddening and, ultimately, rewarding part of writing a song.”
Lael’s new album Acquainted With Night is a testament to this poetic devotion. Stripped of any extraneous word or sound, the songs are lit by Lael’s crystalline voice which lays on a lush bed of Omnichord. The collection touches on themes that have been thread into her work for years: isolation, mortality, yearning, and reaching ever toward the transcendent experience.
Lael grew up on a farm in rural Virginia, but for nearly 10 years called Los Angeles home. Those years were spent developing her songwriting and performing in venues across the city, but the right way to record the songs proved more elusive. She worked with countless musicians, producers and collaborators, making entire records and eventually stowing them away. She says, “Every time I reached the end of recording, I felt the songs had been stripped of their vitality in the process of layering drums, bass, guitar, violin and organ over them. They felt weighed down.”
Despite endless frustration she never resigned and in a moment of illumination the most obvious solution presented itself: do the simple thing. In early 2019, in the midst of major transition, she acquired a new instrument, the Omnichord, and began recording a deluge of emerging songs with the intention to capture them in their truest form. Guy Blakeslee, who had been an advocate for years, facilitated the process by setting up the cassette recorder in her bedroom and providing empathic guidance, subtle yet affecting accompaniment and engineering prowess. Limited to only 4-tracks and first takes, Lael had to surrender some of her perfectionism to deliver the songs in their essence.”