Lola Kirke - Lady for Sale Music Album Reviews

Lola Kirke - Lady for Sale Music Album Reviews
Committing to a bit that isn’t entirely convincing, the actor and singer-songwriter takes performative pleasure in the broke-down love affairs and ritzy sound of 1980s and ’90s country pop.

At the start of last year, Lola Kirke was struggling to find work as an actor or a musician. The star of Mistress America was told that her body and age would be a problem—explanations she understandably found to be “crazy-making.” There’s some irony in the fact that she turned to country music to find creative freedom: In the genre’s mainstream incarnation, at any rate, the standards imposed on women performers are hardly less punitive or limiting than those of Hollywood or pop. But then everything about Kirke’s second album, Lady for Sale, is a bit of an anachronism.

Kirke has written off her debut, 2018’s stately Americana effort Heart Head West, as “dour,” and said that the joy of ’80s and ’90s country is where her heart really lies. We may be in the midst of a Shania-aissance, but on Lady for Sale, Kirke leaps back further to the era of Wynonna Judd, Pam Tillis, and Real Love-era Dolly Parton. This is big, blousy, country pop that buffs its pedal steel to a chrome gleam, offsets snappy production with misty-eyed longing, and doesn’t ever quite feel complete until it’s soundtracking a big-city movie full of promise and power-walking. It’s a sound full of nostalgia and with it a built-in sense of comfort.

While Kirke didn’t approach traditional country labels with the album, she found that most indies weren’t interested, either: Lady for Sale falls between the cracks of the capital-R Realness of guys singing about trucks/beer/fishing/etc. and the small-r realness of songwriters who stake their work on earthier types of autobiography. Although her lyrics about misaligned relationships feel hard won, Kirke sees the magic in the performative pleasures of this ritzy sound, how its AM glory brings a little heroism to a domestic life, making pain you should have dodged and longing you should have got over feel spotlight-worthy for a few minutes. It makes sense, too, that she found a home at Third Man, a label built on the urge to embody an aesthetic to its fullest extent.

And Kirke goes for it on Lady for Sale’s great opening run. “Broken Families” encompasses steady disco-ball sparkle, pedal steel curlicues that feel as though they should trace condensation love hearts in the sky, and a chorus that could be an anthem. A duet with Courtney Marie Andrews, it’s an emphatic, bruised account of two lovers trying to use one another to heal their broken pasts: “We’re two wrongs trying to make it right,” Kirke observes, beautifully, through a mouthful of pathos and twang. The pace peps up: “If I Win” practically saunters, in thrall to Belinda Carlisle’s saltwater-fresh pop and Cyndi Lauper’s strut, but it’s lonely, too. Laying out her desires for a lost opportunity, Kirke dials up the suggestive side of her voice until it becomes slightly pinched: She’s made weary by the limitations of the fantasy, “drunk enough to think you think of me too/But not drunk enough to believe it’s true.” She pivots again with “Better Than Any Drug,” a saucy, sparky, straightforward come-on full of Dolly coquettishness and the supreme confidence of a last look in the mirror before heading out. It’s pure pastiche, right down to the cheesecake spoken-word admission of infatuation in the middle eight, and pure delight.

But Kirke’s wholehearted commitment to the bit doesn’t always work. She does a nice line in vocals that are beseeching or cheeky, yet often lurches towards a degree of Dolly cosplay that feels egregious for a woman who grew up in New York City, especially the distractingly affected warble of the title track. Although its lyrics about the need for women to self-commodify lest someone else take advantage are sharp, it’s hard not to think of Parton’s own “9 to 5,” a song on the same subject that has endured for 42 years, while Kirke dates hers with references to TikTok and OnlyFans. A few lovely choruses aside—the dusky twinkle of “Pink Sky” lives up to its name; the raucously glass-all-empty “Stay Drunk” would get a bar full of strangers singing along within a minute—Kirke and producer Austin Jenkins’ genre-first approach is diluting. “The Crime” buries her in bizarre zydeco production; the concluding power ballad one-two of “No Secrets” and “By Your Side” becomes digressive and wan. Despite real moments of fun, the project ends up feeling shy of its influences, stopping short of a full buy-in.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lola Kirke - Lady for Sale Music Album Reviews Lola Kirke - Lady for Sale Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 09, 2022 Rating: 5

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