Laura Jean - ‘A Fool Who’ll’

Samantha Allemann

CHAPTER MUSIC: Album number three for Melbourne’s Laura Jean sees her drop the stripped-back acoustic sound in favour of an electric guitar, but her folk leanings are as strong as ever.
Laura Jean - ‘A Fool Who’ll’
A Fool Who’ll is album number three for Melbourne’s Laura Jean, following on from 2006’s Our Swan Song and 2008’s Eden Land. There’s been a shift in sound since then; whilst Laura Jean’s folk leanings remain as strong as ever, this third release is her first non-acoustic record. She’s assembled a trio with long time collaborators Jen Sholakis and Biddy Connor, with guest appearances on the album from Grand Salvo’s Paddy Mann, ex-Architecture In Helsinki trumpet player Isobel Knowles, and many others.

Gibson SG strums open first track ‘So Happy’, with the vocals playfully dipping in and out of soft purrs and high-pitched yelps. Laura Jean’s voice is diverse, easily transitioning from delicate, soft whispers to whimsical trills and then onto mighty shrieks, often all in the same song. The biting ‘Australia’ is another example of this; it creeps along despondently (“I’m afraid to sing in my own accent, culture cringing like an adolescent”) and as the drums take a beating, the vocals rise to fiery shouts (“We come from people that broke the law, now I need a stamped piece of paper to take a piss”) only to quickly return to a smooth warble.

First single ‘Missing You’ has a melancholic beauty to the ballad, and ‘Valenteen’ is completely mesmeric. ‘Spring’ comprises a duet between Laura and Paddy Mann, which starts oh-so-delicately before the full strength of the vocals rise over the accompanying strings, triumphantly ending in some pretty impressive vocal gymnastics. ‘Marry Me’ is classical folk-pop at its prettiest, high spirited and packed full of instruments (violin, cello and clarinet in addition to the work of the trio).

‘My Song’ is charmingly child-like with its nonsensical lyrics, and is almost old fashioned sounding due to the delicate vocal melodies of Magic Silver White’s Jojo Petrina and Monica Sonand. Just as you feel you’re about to be lured into The Secret Garden, final track ‘All Along’ comes along; a much more straight forward pop song.

A Fool Who’ll succeeds in putting together nine songs which are interestingly diverse, yet all equally strong. There’s no filler, and that is something quite rare indeed. Laura Jean’s gorgeous voice and strong range is well matched by her band and their new electric approach, resulting in an album that’s both dynamic and sweet.

Rating: Five stars

Laura Jean – A Fool Who’ll
Now available now through Chapter Music

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Samantha Allemann is a Melbourne based freelance writer and occasional 3RRR broadcaster.