Elizabeth Le Fey used to be a punk singer and was also formerly known as the White Witch of Oxygen. Since adapting the Globelamp persona, the Olympia, Washington native has signed to Wichita and toured all over the world, including a European jaunt with Mothers. Written in the wake of a painful romantic break-up and the death of her best friend, ‘The Orange Glow’ is a concept record of sorts – inspired by a fairy tale that features a forest full of poisoned flora, predatory fauna and unspeakable mysteries. It’s a bold idea, but how does it sound?
‘Washington Moon’ opens proceedings and as soon as she delivers the first words ‘Acid rain on sunny days map the stars inside my brain’ in a twang that Marianne Faithfull would be proud of, you know that this album will take you on a remarkable journey. The song then veers into a more sunny, Whitney-style sound as she sings about how ‘I want a California sun and a Washington moon in the same room at the same time. I can’t be in two different places although I’ll try’. Following this is ‘Controversial Confrontational’, a stark song that finds Globelamp discussing themes of distrust over psychedelic and folky bedding. She opens her heart as she says ‘Men cannot be trusted and women, too, but I believed in you’ and as she opens up about trading wishes in the final lines, there is a choral feel that hints at a spark of optimism.
There’s more of a sea shanty feel to the piano-led ‘The Negative’. In her distinctive voice, Globelamp sings about how ‘answers are just questions killing time’ and then puts extra emphasis on the final word in her defining statement ‘my plans are changing’ before again finishing with a more positive burst of ‘la, la, las’. ‘Artist Traveller’ has to be one of the standout moments on the album. It opens with genteel keyboards and a clear acoustic guitar and there’s a nursery rhyme-style rhythm as Globelamp sings about getting old and how ‘I don’t always do as I’m told’. Her voice has an otherworldliness quality to it while the theatrical cheekiness in her lyrics brings to mind Tori Amos. This superb slice of dream pop finishes with her talking about the things you can do if you’re a traveller or artist (‘Your brush strokes show your soul if you’re a painter’) before the final lines seems to be a person making peace with their fate: ‘I’m getting cold and I’m growing old’. There’s something eerie about ‘Don’t Go Walking in the Woods Alone at Night’. It’s sound advice indeed but the song touches on bigger themes, including possibly the desolate feeling that death brings: ‘He had been crying, he saw me dying, he had been crying, he turned me away’.
‘Cold calculations, I tasted your logic but couldn’t swallow it down’ are the opening lines on ‘Invisible Prisons’, a song that then goes on to talk about angels and the afterlife – a recurring theme throughout the record. The whole of the track seems to be a metaphor for grief, especially with heartbreaking lyrics like ‘If you don’t come and see me, I’ll be on a train to destiny with no one beside me’ and ‘I’m invisible’. ‘Master of Lonely’ follows and seems to be about moving on and thinking about a brighter future: ‘Driving fast, trying not to look back’ and ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m doing just fine’ just two of the stand-out lines. The guitars are turned up and there’s an assertiveness running throughout the PJ Harvey-inspired ‘Piece of the Pie’. The grunge-tinged guitars make this the heaviest song on the album while words are spat out as Globelamp directly addresses the lover who spurned her: ‘How do you sleep with yourself at night? Do you really think you’re justified? How do you live with the lies you’ve told?’
Things are turned down on the penultimate ‘San Francisco’, a song that references famous couples ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Sid and Nancy. It’s the perfect contrast to the seething anger in the song that came before. ‘Faerie Queen’ finishes the album and opens with a peaceful tone, tinged with water dropping as Globelamp sings about rivers and streams leading you directly to the queen (who Globelamp also sings as later on). The dreamy soundscapes bring to mind Bat for Lashes and the song slowly reaches a gentle, nature-surrounded climax.
On the closing song, Globelamp sings ‘Do I often visit your dreams; things are rarely the way that they seem?’ These words sum up the beauty of this record. There are fantastical sounds throughout but a darkness in line with troubadours like Patrick Wolf, Patti Smith or Kate Bush. It’s a fantastic and rewarding listen.