Photographers: Ammo Bankoff; Elva Lexa.
The Orange Glow is the second album by Globelamp, the solo project of songwriter Elizabeth Le Fey, who performs an intensely personal brand of lo-fi indie folk. Le Fey grew up listening to glam rock and hippie folk (à la Donovan), and her voice has an appropriately mystical quality to it, stretching words out and bending the tempos in order to dramatically emphasize the lyrics. Musically, her songs sound like a slightly more pop-focused update of the early material by artists like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, dating from the mid-2000s era when people used the term "freak folk" to describe this sort of thing. It has a distinctly Northwestern indie sensibility to it, with loose, reverb-covered drums crashing in the back of the mix and a general shambolic, D.I.Y. feel. (Prior to its wider 2016 issue by Wichita, the album was initially released on cassette in 2015, and it certainly sounds like it, although the reissue does sound cleaner.) Le Fey rarely sticks to conventional time signatures, constantly accelerating and slowing down the tempos, and letting the songs freely float at their own will. The album does feature a few incredibly catchy songs, particularly lead single "Washington Moon," which finds Le Fey longing to be in both of her home states (Washington and California) at the same time. While the song seems quite sunny (disregarding the bridge where she sings about rain, accompanied by falling water sounds), a lot of the other songs are much darker, directly dealing with personal issues. Le Fey spent a brief period as a touring member of Foxygen, during which she was in a relationship with co-founder Sam France, but her ousting from the band and the couple's breakup were messy and public, involving legal action. Globelamp's song "San Francisco" is a direct response to this, sharing its title with Foxygen's single of the same name, the video of which featured a starring role by Le Fey. Other songs deal with similar themes of mistrust, heartbreak, and loneliness, and many of them seem like they could be related to the debacle, even if some of them were actually written before it happened. Some of the album's more aggressive moments (particularly "Controversial/Confrontational") recall the bitterness of Lush's Lovelife, and the grungy "Piece of the Pie" is downright accusatory, asking "How do you sleep with yourself at night?" Other songs are sad and forlorn, with weeping strings and more vulnerable vocals. "Don't Go Walking in the Woods Alone at Night" sounds appropriately haunted and frightened. The album ends on a much lighter, more peaceful note with "Faerie Queen," which mixes the sound of a babbling brook with shimmering organ and pianos. As emotionally heavy as this album seems, it's ultimately empowering, as Le Fey fearlessly and creatively faces traumatic incidents and negativity. ~ Paul Simpson