Louise Aubrie’s third album, “Late 44” was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the help of some very accomplished backing musicians. She’s still the writer and musical architect, but she’s very much getting the best from being surrounded by talented people. “Late 44” is laced with riffs and rhythms that hit exactly the right level of breeziness, aggressiveness or bounciness. In the opening song, Masterstroke, there’s a short solo that could easily have pushed the song into overdriven classic rock, but is played with just enough restraint to push the edges of the album’s pop rock core. It won’t be the last time that elements that might have meandered outside of the correct musical context are constrained and elevated by sound playing and composition.
Though the album feels a bit samey on first listen, its mix of 60’s melodies and New Wave energy is punctuated with Western and surf embellishments. The bass is consistently bouncy, and the final song, Please Don’t Touch, is lead by drums rather than any stringed instrument. Even Aubrie’s voice is surprisingly varied on further listens. She bends herself to the song at hand.
This means she doesn’t establish the kind of personal vocal brand that other singers strive for. Each song gets the voice it deserves and there’s no point where you’re left thinking, “This song would have been great in the hands of another singer.” This approach will please some people and leave others wishing for a more assertive voice as the core of the album. There’s always a trade off.
Lyrically the album is rooted in the time honored pop rock topics of relationships and personal empowerment. They are good. They are well crafted. Perhaps a real brain worm of a chorus would be welcome, but they’re not lacking in any sense beyond that. Will you be challenged, unlikely, but you’ll probably find yourself singing or humming along.
This a solid, nimble album full of professional performances. It never fails to be compelling and to either draw the listener in or drag them along. Like all good albums it is done before you know it and leaves you wanting more. The slower songs don’t kill the energy of the album and the faster songs don’t sound out of place or gimmicky. Everything here sounds complete, which is a rare commodity. Well worth a listen.