Critics have described a lot of this year’s soul music as experimental in nature, and when taking in the debut record from Lace – ironically titled Liar’s Notebook – it’s easy to side with the consensus. Lace don’t follow any of the trends their contemporaries have been in Liar’s Notebook outside of a mild taste for surrealism, which shows up in collaborations with Emi Desire in “Liar Liar” and “Bird” specifically, and in each of these cases it takes a backseat to the straightforward lyrical approach employed by the group. This isn’t your mom and dad’s soul music, and it really isn’t your grandparents’ either; if you were hoping to hear something completely fresh and original this fall, I would point you to this disc above all others in its genre at the moment.
I really like the way Lace use texture to push the narrative in “Remember” and “Liar Liar,” and in the guitar-heavy “Lima (ft. Alina Sarna),” it’s employed as the lone facilitator of a sonic climax. At only sixteen minutes long, it’s easy for an audiophile like myself to spend some time playing through the entire tracklist of Liar’s Notebook for no other reason than to absorb the physicality of the instrumentation at different volumes (and, in some cases, a different order than was originally arranged here), and I can personally vouch for how satisfying an experience this can be. There are a lot of layers to the master mix in this EP, and that’s rarely true of any record that fails to eclipse the twenty minute mark.
Honestly, the only real issue I ran into with Liar’s Notebook was its short running time, as it’s rather obvious from the start of the tracklist how ready Lace are for a full-length studio album. There’s a progressive edge to the way they transition from one song to the next here, and though I don’t know that I would call this EP an outright concept piece, it shows the sort of depth such an outing would require to be done right. Neo-soul is the future of R&B’s alternative branch, and if you didn’t believe that before listening to these four songs, I think you’re going to be singing a different tune once you have.
I only just found out about Lace last month, after getting ahold of Liar’s Notebook through an industry colleague, but I can’t conceal my addiction to the alluring set of sounds they compiled in this debut effort. Liar’s Notebook is anything but a case study in half-truths; it’s a barebones collaboration that takes away any of the lines separating the simple from the sophisticated and allows for its players to put whatever color is in their hearts into the harmony. It could be the template for a terrific series of releases from Lace, but even if their next record sounds absolutely nothing like this one does, I have a feeling it’s going to be the kind of substance-laden work anyone who loves a good melody will want to hear.
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