“Everything changes when it needs to.” Those words are oft repeated on “Ancient Oceans,” an unusual but clever song that documents geological transformations as a way of easing the listener into the comparatively small changes going on in their life. Lou has undergone quite a few changes of her own over the years, including moving through two backing bands and from a raw acoustic grassy sound to something more mainstream Americana.
Lou and I had an in depth conversation about change and human nature. Everyone has to change to survive, she explained, but everyone has an immutable part of themselves, their essence, that will remain consistent. On standout track “Still Water,” she essentially says that there are people whose minds will always be still water and others who will experience the rush of a river. We both identify as rushing river types, although Lou has made attempts to quiet her mind through meditation, a practice she explains as focusing on the breath.
The conversation on change and consistency is especially relevant given Lou’s transformation in sound toward something more polished and with percussion. “If you love an artist, even if something about what they’re doing changes, you will see and you will feel, and you will be able to connect with something in there that is still them,” Lou said. “But maybe you’ve changed. The beautiful thing about music is sometimes you’ll go back to it years later and realize that the essential thing in me that connected to the essential thing in that that was an extension of the essential thing in the person who made it is still there. I just needed to go through something.”
I’m all there for Lou’s change in sound. While this EP was more grassy than some of her recent efforts, her more Americana sound remains enjoyable. Her voice is strong as always, both literally and metaphorically, and some of the songwriting is top-notch. Her 2018 rendition of her and her friend Maya De Vitry’s co-write “Shining in the Distance” stands out as an example of how rich her new sound can be. Still, you though you knew is a welcome return to some of her original vibes.
“Freedom,” a co-write and duet with Billy Strings, is, to use a word that was tossed around often in the interview, essential listening. The lyrics are somewhat modern but the sound is a call and response take on a traditional bluegrass hymn. When I tried talking about genre with Lou, she defined the word as non-existent or fluid. But she did acknowledge that learning the bluegrass repertoire gave her a tool with which to express herself and that it takes many tools and some original thoughts to make a song. If that’s the case, Lou and Strings are excellent handymen.
Above is the full episode as aired on WUSB’s Country Pocket, including both my interview with Lindsay Lou and the songs we discussed, starting with Still Water. We also discuss a concert she is performing with Sierra Hull that takes place in New York on September 22, 2022. If you’re reading after the tour and didn’t get a chance to attend one of the shows like I did, I’m sorry you weren’t able to make it. You can hear the show live every Monday at 11am on WUSB 90.1 FM or check the blog to watch it as a YouTube playlist. Visit http://www.WUSB.fm and https://www.lindsayloumusic.com for more.