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Album Review: Jen Cloher - In Blood Memory

4 June 2013 | 5:19 pm | Romi Scodellaro

This is a gorgeous little album and well worth repeated listens.

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She spent six days recording the seven-track LP that broke her four-year silence, and from the first moments it's clear that Jen Cloher hasn't been idly watching time pass. In Blood Memory is a solid, confident album, more immediately arresting than her earlier releases. They were a little easier to listen to, and seemed to take a while to find a place in your head or heart.

It may have something to do with this being the first album she's done without her band, The Endless Sea, or how she's grown in the intervening years – word is Cloher binned an entire album full of songs before penning this one – but she's well on form here, completely self-assured with something a bit grimy ticking away under the lo-fi rock. The heavy distortions meld with Cloher's relaxed, almost lazy-sounding vocals, and as soon as you hear a track, you want to listen to it again. The track, Kamikaze Origami, is held at a lovely, luxurious slow burn from beginning to end and never quite resolves itself, leaving you wanting more – in a good way. Exercising restraint by keeping songs bubbling under the surface without boiling over can hold a massive payoff and shows an enviable lightness of touch.

Though let it be said that when she goes off, she goes off. Closing track, Hold My Hand, begins gently with a thin layer of guitar and sweet, matter-of-fact vocals. The way it builds is beautiful, the guitar growing stronger, a chorus of voices being introduced and overlapping, and exploding at the end in a strident array of drums and guitar. This is a gorgeous little album and well worth repeated listens.