Holly Lapsley Fletcher, better known simply as Låpsley, is about to make bigger waves than she already has if Wednesday’s Heaven show in London is anything to go by. The Southport, Merseyside native released her debut album Long Way Home just a few weeks ago and was announced this week to be gracing one of the many Glastonbury Festival stages this summer.
Her blend of electronica, soulful vocals, vocoder-pitch-shifted harmonies and strong song-writing demonstrate that she has a unique style that has a place amongst the plethora of new electronic pop acts emerging on the scene.
Appearing on the venue’s high stage cloaked in shadows and back-lit by a zig-zag of neon lights, the 19-year-old appeared in front of two microphones, the purpose of both demonstrated later on in the set.
Kicking off with non-album track Burn, a light synth intro layered with gentle vocals followed-up with a slow heavy beat, Fletcher eased the London crowd into her set as bright lights lit her up. Dressed in a long black dress, her sombre and cool gothic look seemed a perfect fit for the underground venue, a stiffness immediately broken as she addressed her audience for the first time with: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I ain’t shaved my legs!” in her strong Scouse accent, a laugh rippling across the crowd.
Long Way Home songs Cliff and Falling Short followed, the spectral slow-funk vibe continuing. Last year’s Understudy EP track Dancing had an outing next, hauntingly sparse instrumentation and standout vocals continuing to set out her increasingly distinctive sound.
“Usually I wear quite risqué dresses, but today I went with the safe option” she said, referencing the long black dress she had on and cutting through any conclusions that could have been drawn from it.
Låpsley took up position behind a keyboard for Painter from her debut LP next, a clockwork music box sound adding a unique glint to the song.
Chill R&B-tinged Tell Me The Truth made sure everyone was fully aware of the reason for the two-mic setup, with the 19-year-old switching between the mic on her left and that on her right, which was routed through a vocal pitch-shifter, allowing her to perform a male-female duet with herself without any pre-recording.
Disco tune Operator featured a recorded retro vocal harmony harking back to 1950’s American radio commercials and a rather upbeat tone given the song’s downbeat lyrics. “It’s like I’ve got a broken trust” she sings.
“So this next song is the first song I finished for my album” Låpsley said, introducing Station to cheers from a, by now, enraptured crowd. Back to the slower pace the set began with, extensive use of tone shifting and a loop-station allowed for live vocal layering, making for a mesmerising performance of an otherwise minimalist tune.
Disappearing quickly following a couple more from Long Way Home, Fletcher reappeared on the former Adelphi Arches wine-cellar stage for a short encore of Kate Bush classic This Woman’s Work, which she recently recorded for International Women’s Day, and Long Way Home single Hurt Me.
With the tone of her chat in direct contrast to her music, it’s difficult not to make the Adele comparisons. But if anything, her down-to-earth Merseyside accent and frank talk humanises her and puts her audience at ease.
Låpsley hits the European road for a few dates next before taking the stage at the double-weekender Coachella Festival in Indio, California. US and Canada stops follow before her European summer festival dates including Belgium’s Rock Werchter, Latitude and Glastonbury. She’s back in London in October for a headline show at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Live review of Låpsley @ Heaven by Kalpesh Patel on 30th March 2016.
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate