Kelsey Lu is a young, black bisexual cellist and singer-songwriter who was raised by two devout Jehovah’s Witnesses in North Carolina. Lu’s pursuit of music led her to Brooklyn, where she recorded her debut EP, Church, with a small group of musicians at Park Slope’s Holy Family Roman Catholic Church. The startling and spacious six-track release was recorded in one, uninterrupted take.
Lu’s debut takes a different approach at soul music. The elements of conviction, power and precision synonymous with the genre are all there, but it’s packaged in an entirely unconventional way. While Lu’s howling alto knows no limits, the musical arrangements accompanying her are simple, discreet and beautifully underdeveloped. The space she allows herself to thrive in–both the space between her sonic expressions and the physical space of the recording venue–are essential to her sound, what makes Lu’s Church such a thoroughly evocative listen.
Kelsey Lu’s string-focused soul productions are novel, but her full-figured, tremulous, idiosyncratic chops are what will sustain this artist’s nascent career (Florence Welch and Joanna Newsom come to mind, but they don’t quite satisfy a comparison). True to their minimal form, Church‘s songs are emotionally vulnerable odes to beauty, love and sadness.
Lu shared a bill with Kelela and performed live with Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange project earlier this year. Next month she’ll open for Sampha during his first headlining New York gigs at Baby’s All Right and Music Hall of Williamsburg (both sold out within minutes).
Watch visuals from Church and stream the whole EP on Spotify below.
“Morning After Coffee”: