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Chris Helme - and She Makes War (Laura Kidd) - 7th December 2013

Artists' websites: Chris Helme / She Makes War

Chris Helme, who first rose to prominence as the front man of John Squire’s post-Stone Roses band ‘The Seahorses’ released his brand new solo album on the 27th of August 2012. Still rightfully remembered for the anthemic Britpop classics Love Is The Law and Blinded By The Sun - songs that evoked everything the 90’s stood for, the excitement, the culture and the bands that provided a voice in a period of political and social imbalance. Present day societal context may well in fact mirror those times but the man himself, now, appears cut from an entirely different cloth.

Helme’s is an enviable back catalogue, bolstered further by his acclaimed works with The Yards, but it’s The Rookery’s knack for melody and imaginative, intricate, three-way guitar interplay that brings each track to such lush, blossoming, climaxes. Add to this Helme’s keen ear for arranging and those brooding string passages resonate even more deeply.

Recorded in just 9 days at The Rookery, a country hideaway nestled in the wilds of the Yorkshire Dales, the album reveals a beguiling vulnerability in both Helme’s voice and lyrics. The wonderfully restrained Darkest Days’ somber refrain, ‘Following you, leads me astray’, rings out with the sentiment of changing direction, putting paid to past misdemeanors, while on the forthcoming single Long Way Round, Helme is found resolute in his plaintive cry, ‘Now you’ve found yourself, you’re on your own’. An apt lyric indeed as his solo path turns this dramatic corner.

There is plenty on offer here as Chris and producer Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps) showcase their depth of sonic understanding as fuzzed out guitars are married with distorted Mellotron, melting strings, whistling feedback and haunting orchestral vocals.

Melodies rooted in traditional folk structures are vividly reimagined on an album of startlingly rich variation. Even the Rolling Stones’ stomp of Daddy’s Farm bookended between the blues filth of Pleased and the gorgeously mellow Summer Girl, doesn’t stick out, testament to Helme’s most powerful weapon – his voice.

This aspect to his music was never in question. From the earliest days of his career, his voice always commanded attention, and The Rookery’s variation is seemingly bound by this one continuous thread. File next to CSN&Y, Led Zeppelin 3, Buckley, The Coral, and enjoy.

“The Rookery wallows in folky introspection, echoing the fragility of Gram Parsons with the rustic side of Neil Young” Uncut

“Dreamy but driven indie folk. Enhanced by lavishly layered productions and a deftly deployed string quartet” Q Magazine

“This is a gold medal record from a superb musical talent, and proof, if any were ever needed that there was more than one musical legend in the Seahorses.” Classic Rock

“An acoustic gem of psych folk & perfectly weighted string arrangements, underpinned by great vocals that spin out in lyrical wonder” Tuppence Magazine

"Sumptuous" The Independent

She Makes War is the gloom-pop solo project of Bristol based multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and digital polymath Laura Kidd, whose independent albums "Disarm" and "Little Battles" have gained her an ardent international following over the last three years.

Bewitching audiences up and down the land with her atmospheric solo gigs on Telecaster, ukulele, megaphone, marching drum and loops, she also heads up the My Big Sister digital DIY community and her quarterly Breakfast With Apollo community and collaboration nights in London and Bristol aim to support, ignite and inspire.

Blending urgent, grungey guitars with processed beats, heady pop melodies and a liberal dusting of glitter, She Makes War has drawn comparisons to artists from Blur to Bat For Lashes, Throwing Muses, Bauhaus, Belly, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins.

"These are utterly engaging, catchy pop songs that will stay with you a good long while after you’ve seen them performed. Music at it’s best, and if you’ve not managed to see She Makes War yet, then you’re missing out."