Lilith Ai has just released a gorgeous new single – Vinegar – and it’s our single of the week. We’re loving the more polished pop production to this beauty, which really showcase Lilith’s butter-melting vocals.
Lilith tells us:
“it’s about female friendship and loss, and those friends that you never forget”
Review by Kris Smith, Photos by Keira Anee at LOUD WOMEN Fest 2019
First – a confession. ‘Bare Radical’ by LilithAi was released during the summer of 2019 and I was not paying full attention. Despite catching her set three years ago at the first Loud Women festival, the artist had fallen off my radar a little during the three years since her first ‘Riot’ EP of that September. But she has my attention now, and as the only solo performer at this month’s Loud Women Fest 4 she had the attention of an entire room armed only with acoustic guitar and electric charisma. The Loud Women audience is in the main a respectful one, to be sure, but it’s still quite a feat to get any crowd to shut the fuck up for the token quiet song in a set, let alone a whole performance. Lilith held us in, and eating out of, the palm of her hand, while hanging on her every word.
Luckily her words are worth hanging on to, and likewise the music. January’s excellent EP2 ‘Native Tongue’ was self-described “lo-fi indie folk with soulful flavour,” albeit far more varied and produced than that soundbite suggests, but EP3 ‘Bare Radical’ defies presumption/classification/limitation and represents a further step forward for this DIY singer, songwriter and artist (the brilliant artwork is all hers too).
‘Warrior Queen’ is built around a huge chorus seemingly aiming for pop anthem status but still has the chutzpah to segue into a furious punk denouement. The succeeding title track is part plaintive defiance (“I’m sorry, I’m not sorry”), part ‘I Will Survive’ rap and an ellipsis where a final chorus would be if the artist needed to milk it and hadn’t yet learned the power of leaving the listener wanting more. ‘Blue Jeans’ throws a further curveball with an idiosyncratic take on indiepop – and the EP is only getting started. ‘Long Way Down’ gilds a polyrhythmic reggae skank with snatches of JA toasting and British slang like a lost guest-vocal track from Sandinista!, while final song ‘Underdogs’ is heartfelt glitch-gospel meets kitchen-sink R&B ballad, showing off – as does each preceding track – the versatility of Lilith’s mellifluous vocals.
Touching on political and personal narratives, and exploring multiple genres and heritages without once feeling forced or tokenistic, this EP demonstrates a breadth of creative potential crying out for the wider reception and greater attention that a full-length album and attendant media exposure could provide. Do your bit and just buy the EP already, because this is, Lilith is, the real deal. To quote the first song here, she comes correct.
Bare Radical is out now. EP4 is due later this year.
Lilith Ai is going to be a megastar pretty soon, so can we just state for the record that we loved her very much before she was famous? We loved her when she first came and played for us in a smelly basement in Brixton, we loved her big time when she turned up to play LOUD WOMEN Fest 2 with a cake she baked for us, and you’ll all love her when she plays the hello out of LOUD WOMEN Fest 4 on 14 Sept – catch her at 5pm on the Boston Music Room stage. (Also – Fun Fact – Lilith’s mum is doing our catering this year. Vegan Creole food – and if her mum’s gumbo is as good as Lilith’s cakes, we’re all in for a massive treat.) Here’s her pre-Fest 5 Question Interview.
1. For people who’ve not seen you play live before, what can we expect from you at LOUD WOMEN Fest?
Chill vibes. I try to make connections when I play so people see me within themselves. And we can be like “same”.
2. Fill in the blanks…
“Our sound is like the lovechild of Tracy Chapman and Lauryn Hill with a bit on the side from Sonic Youth”
3. Give us your artist manifesto in no more than 20 words.
I do the best I can till I know better, then I do that.
4. Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at LOUD WOMEN Fest?
There are so many bands this year coming from abroad. I wanna see all of those because I may not get the chance again. And also Hurtling, because I’ve never seen them.
14 Sept 2019 at London’s Dome and Boston Music Room looks set to see the biggest (and best?) LOUD WOMEN Fest yet! Here’s the news we’ve been dying to tell you for months … our final* lineup, in no particular order …
*I mean, as final as anything is that could possibly have slight changes here and there in cases of sickness, injury, best friends throwing last-minute weddings, that sort of thing. But pretty damn final I’d say!
Join us on 17 March for a LOUD WOMEN takeover at London’s Royal Albert Hall! Headliners ILL will be performing a one-off “witchy queer cabaret”, with a collage of dealing with the topic of identity (with added bits from ILL videos) on a loop as a backdrop to their killer set. Here’s a sneak preview of the video:
Support on the night will come from:
* Nun Habit – London-based five-piece, whose fuzzy garage rock sound places a heavy emphasis on loud noises, pop-y tunes and having a good time.
* Lilith Ai – a DIY singer-songwriter, who performs poignant tales of modern city life. Born in northeast London Ai grew up streetwise. In her early teens with only £70 in her pocket, she ran away to America and spent the next few years living on the streets Queens New York which has heavily influenced her music.
* I, Doris – Mummycore riotpop kitchenpunx. “One of the most radical and fun bands we’ve ever seen … they take a glittering disco punk meat cleaver to the gender challenges that no-one else is talking about. Armed with a keytar, a wealth of wit, and a communal I, Doris pledge, you can imagine these Londoners going down a storm at any kind of event.” – Kitmonsters
The event is part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Unstoppable Voices series of events, in partnership with LOUD WOMEN and The Quietus.