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A Magazine for Sheffield

Curlicues Private Life

Private Life
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Curlicues, the alias of Sheffield musician L.A. Foster, presents an album of ambitious chamber folk in Private Life.

At its best, the album invokes a sense of high drama. Opener 'Locomotive' features a chord progression that pushes further than standard folk balladry, its occasional swooping shifts in harmony recalling the baroque pop of early Scott Walker. 'A New Beginning' begins with mournful violin over unfolding cosmic guitar chords, before the introduction of a clarinet ushers in a new passage with a lightly jazzy cadence.

Foster sings with an intensity of diction

There is a charming interplay between the ambitious songwriting and arrangements and the lo-fi nature of the recording. Most tracks feature nothing more than strummed guitar, voice, minimal percussion and a splash of keys, violin or woodwind. The stripped-back instrumentation gives the album a sense of space, though one area that would have benefited from higher production values is the acoustic guitar. It has an overly trebly, crispy quality that once noticed won't go away.

Foster sings with an intensity of diction which when paired with these far-reaching arrangements adds a sense of melodramatic camp, like a more optimistic Momus. He's described the album as being influenced by a set of lucid dreams. This can be seen most clearly in the lyrics which frequently reference nature, and lines like, "It's like a mystery, being born" on 'Locomotive', questioning the nature of our existence. Other highlights include the enjoyably dreamy 'Midnight at the Orangery' and the low-key but meditative piano instrumental 'European Eye'.

Jack Buckley

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