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Lotte Mullan – Plain Jane

Lotte Mullan, Plain Jane

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

LOTTE Mullan is a rich talent just waiting to be found. An acoustic-based UK singer-songwriter, Lotte releases a cracking debut album, in the form of Plain Jane, which enthrals and entertains with its pleasing mix of styles.

Comparisons to the style of artists such as Katie Melua, Sarah Blasko and Caitlin Rose are obvious, but appropriate, while it’s no small compliment to say that several songs on the LP are tailor-made for supplementing the soundtrack of top US shows such as Grey’s Anatomy.

Mullan has a breezy, easy to listen to style that’s great for just kicking back with… but she also mixes in the odd slice of blues and country to augment her folksy roots. The ensuing LP is as much a fun tribute to her influences as it is an intimate appraisal of her journey to this point so far.

By Lotte’s own admission, Plain Jane is an album about growing up, that’sintended to sound “very much like a first record”.

“I wanted there to be a certain naivety to it, like a first dance, slightly awkward but enthusiastic,” she explains.

It’s as much inspired by her love of Rickie Lee Jones, Bobbie Gentry, Kirsty MacColl and The Beatles as it is her belated discovery and admiration for the old blues and folk from the ‘30s. But it’s brimming with an instant accessibility and wide-reaching appeal.

The country-tinged folk of Fire In My Soul opens things with a nice acoustic backdrop and a set of vocals that positively caress the ear-drums. Yet it’s infused with a tenderness and vulnerability that also make her endearing, thanks to lines such as “I’ve only got so much love in my heart.” You’ll want to embrace her.

Lotte’s aptitude for playfully sexy song-writing then becomes evident on the raunchy Wicked Way, which encourages a one-night stand with lyrics like “I’m not gonna come over and meet your mum and dad” and “I just want to get you close enough so I can take off all your clothes”.

It’s the sweetest ode to passion I can remember hearing in a long while, which only adds to its flirtatious appeal.

Elsewhere, there’s a lovely ramshackle bluesy quality to the dusty folk of Alright With Me, which underlines Lotte’s self-confidence and inspirational qualities. It’s a feisty statement of self-content that declares “I’m beautiful and I’m perfect from my head down to my feet, I’m everything that I want to be…”

In contrast, there’s a kooky, almost Regina Spektor style breeze to the melodic La La Love You… one of several that demands a spot on a US TV show. It’s a sunshine offering of immense positivity.

The guitar work on the tender Would You Be So Kind reminded me of Rolling Stones’ Beast of Burden, while the lyrics are truly heartbreaking – the would you be so kind of the title quickly followed by a lovelorn “to break my heart and send me on my way”. Once again, Lotte succeeds in breaking your heart.

When You Know has an acoustic/mandolin vibe reminiscent of Jack Johnson style song-writing, while Suzie’s Back In Town is a gutsy, more fuller bodied country-rocker that shows Lotte can add a tougher edge to some of her more intimate qualities.

But then, reading her PR, she’s a self-made success… resolutely deciding to work for the big music labels and to learn how they work before creating her own album and label (Raindog Records).

It’s another admirable quality and one that should hold her in good stead for the years ahead.

But her real quality lies in her song-writing and the way in which she effortlessly delivers songs of instant appeal and timeless entertainment. Plain Jain is an excellent debut (one of the year’s best, even) that really out to win her an army of fans. It’s a beautiful listen.

Read our interview with Lotte Mullan

Download picks: Wicked Way, Alright With Me, La La Love You, Would You Be So Kind, Valentine Song, The Last Time I Got High

Track listing:

  1. Fire In My Soul
  2. Wicked Way
  3. Can’t Find The Words
  4. Alright With Me
  5. La La Love You
  6. Would You Be So Kind
  7. When You Know
  8. Suzie’s Back In Town
  9. How To Hold On
  10. Valentine Song
  11. The Last Time I Got High