The first thing one notices when listening to Battle Scars, the debut EP of Plymouth, England singer/ songwriter Lindsey Dolbear is that her vocals inflect a slight country twang, but that the music itself, which has some country nuances to it, mainly the acoustic guitar, cannot be pinned down as straight country. Dolbear has a great many influences she cites; from Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, to Michael Jackson and Blondie, all the way to Cat Stevens. It seems each one of these influences, however heavy or mild, creeps in and out of the songs on Battle Scars.
The opening track “Overhead” is a fast moving country soaked pop tune that bounces along like a rubber ball down a flight of stairs. Dolebear’s vocals are clear and powerful, though not overpowering. However what makes the song so damn catchy is the electronic loop of mellow keys that flickers in and out. Dolebear slows it down but keeps it country on the toe tapping broken heart mending “15 Days.” Musically it’s a bit of a golf clap, though the lyrics are genuinely clever, which I appreciated. Dolebear sings “15 days and I haven't thought about you/ No I swear you haven't crossed my mind/ No, no, no, no, no/ I guess I won't really know If I'm over you/ Until I see you again.”
The title track “Battle Scars” is a slow guitar-centric ballad, the kind of which is written to sound hopeful as it builds, and repeats its chorus with a heavy focus on the metaphor, which in this case is the “battle scar.” It comes off as most hopeful breakup songs do, which is slightly chintzy and begs for a little more sympathy than it’s worth crediting.
The same goes for the slow and mopey “The Look In Their Eyes,” which is riddled with clichés of the lovelorn, or perhaps the want to be lovelorn. This cliché is then turned to the other side, that of the angry ex who is now trying to make sense of what went wrong and feigning strength even though they are now alone.
Battle Scars is sometimes scarred by its lack of depth. What many musicians often fail to calculate is that there is pain in the world so much greater than their own and that much of it has been well documented in some form or another. The singer/songwriter cannot hide behind the talented musicians in their band. They are at the forefront and so they must have something new and exciting to bring to the table if they expect someone to listen. Lindsey Dolebear has great resource of influences. A stronger studying of what made them so influential may help her next album to sound more like herself.
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