Australian-born singer-songwriter Lenka Kripac — better known as Lenka — has produced yet another dynamic album: Shadows. Delivering a rich production of soothing melodies paired with her honeyed voice, Shadows will entrance listeners with its lullaby-like quality.
Lenka rose to fame with her worldwide chart-topping track, “The Show,” in which she crooned the catchy lyrics, “I’m just a little bit caught in the middle / Life is a maze and love is a riddle.”
But unlike “The Show,” it’s doubtful that Lenka’s new album will catch radio airtime — none of her songs stand out as material fit for the general public accustomed to the poppy sounds of Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato.
Then again, maybe she never intended for this album to attain the same commercial fame as her earlier work. Lenka’s carefully formulated refrains belong in the atmosphere of small boutique shops and coffee parlors — not as retail store jingles.
Early in the album, Lenka latches onto the music industry’s infatuation with handclaps in “Heart to the Party.” She sings in the chorus, “So, bring your heart to the party / I wanna dance all night in the darkness daring / Bring your heart to the party.” But her lyrics don’t conjure up images of booze-laden bachelorette outings or rooftop extravaganzas. Just one look at her music video — filled with the youthful innocence of toddlers, green pastures and bright colors — will reveal how Lenka’s recent role as a mother has influenced her music.
The delicate, mellow nature of Shadows reflects a maturity which may be attributed to her new roles as a mother and a wife. Whatever the causes, her experimentation in Shadows has succeeded. Lenka seems to improve with age, catering to both her loyal fanbase that favors her energetic vibes and a newer crowd, more likely to enjoy slower selections.
“No Harm Tonight,” one of the most mesmerizing tracks of this collection, begins with the whimsical sound of a musicbox. It progresses into a more complex tune of piano, violin and drums. The song picks up its pace at the chorus as Lenka sings, “Your shadows will fly away / Your ships will sail away / No, nothing will harm you tonight.”
Musicians sometimes follow the unfortunate trend of crafting ballads that are nearly identical in sound and style, but luckily each one of Lenka’s songs prevails in its own distinct way. By forgoing repetition, Lenka pleases ears and prevents fingers from skipping songs.
The only disappointing track is “Honeybee;” its overly tender disposition and lackluster pace makes it difficult to sit through and enjoy.
The BBC once dubbed her the “canny hybrid of Regina Spektor and Kate Nash.” But in Shadows, Lenka’s deviation from her typically upbeat arrangements makes it more difficult to draw comparisons to other artists.
The album title is certainly fitting: Shadows is sometimes dark and sometimes flighty, but a brilliant portrait of its creator. As this artist builds her discography over the coming years, we can only wonder what she’ll conjure up next.
So cough up that extra cash for Shadows, out now, and let Lenka’s tender tunes lull you into sleep. You can also feel good about your purchase for another reason — she has launched a unique pre-order campaign that donates to Save the Children, a U.K. charity that provides relief to the underprivileged in developing nations.