by NICK BUCHANAN
Working professionally under her middle name with a stylized letter for good measure, 20-year-old Holly Lapsley Fletcher is a derivative of modern-day pop and electronic R&B trends with the voice of an old soul. Her husky, well-supported pipes often occupy more space in her soundscapes than the clean, concise beats she lays out for herself, bearing great resemblance to Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. While it’s not hard to draw that comparison in a post-Adele world, don’t allow it to portray her as second-rate: On her debut album, Long Way Home, Låpsley exists in category of her own.
A product of suspicion and distress, Long Way Home listens as such. Unlike her two closest equivalents, she rejects the type of traditional pop production usually paired with her type of soulful inflection, often opting for sparse, self-produced beats and foggy atmospheres. With damp, hollow spaces and plenty of breathing room, lofty tracks like “Cliff” and “Falling Short” are standard Låpsley; her instrumentation offers true competition to her heavyweight vocals only when she looks to ‘70s disco lounge on “Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)” and masquerades herself as a genuine figure of the decade.
In addition to “Operator,” the album is checkered with a few other outliers – namely, “Hurt Me” and “Love is Blind” are sweeping waves against an otherwise calm current, and “Tell Me the Truth” acts as a trippy twist to the Låpsley formula – but they don’t feel uncomfortable residing in the body of work as a whole. Rather, they contribute to the impression that this album, composed of tracks produced within a lengthy two-year span, is a safe space in which the young artist can become accustomed to walking on her own two legs, learning from experience and massaging any growing pains along the way – yet the results render listeners breathless nonetheless. (★★★★ out of five)
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