Princess Chelsea: Aftertouch (Lil' Chief)

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Can't Help Falling In Love With You
Princess Chelsea: Aftertouch (Lil' Chief)

The longtime joke about rock bands was they had three years to write their first album and three months to write their second (which would have some new songs and the left-overs from the first).

The third album – usually required by the demanding record company – was either a bunch of songs about hotel rooms/the road (because that had become their life) . . . or the live album as a stopgap.

A covers album up third was just never on the agenda, but Princess Chelsea and the Lil' Chief label have always been different.

Chelsea's delightful debut Lil' Golden Book was cute'n'clever but stopped short of twee; her second The Great Cybernetic Depression sounded more personal, more widescreen and musically ambitious yet remained in a similar area of childlike wonder while effecting her distinctive skill of being adult at the same time.

And now the third album? And it is covers, albeit mostly a collection of them previously recorded.

But when it comes to songs by others – which she morphs into her own dreamily ornate synth-pop atmospherics – she can sure pick 'em: Marianne Faithfull's Morning Sun from the mid Sixties is given a gentle chug-pop Eighties treatment with the adult-cum-innocent Elizabethan bitter-sweet romance of the original intact; Cobain's Come As You Are enjoys a similarly Chelsea make-over with the overwrought emotions stripped out for a more distant poise in her delivery; the classic Elvis ballad Can't Help Falling In Love With You is re-imagined as being created in a deep and weightless cosmos with the Milky Way outside the space capsule window; Lucinda Williams' Side of the Road sounds ethereally wistful but full of burned emotion . . .

The Beatles' And I Love Her becomes synth-elevator music from Heaven.

But she also looks closer to home for a quietly menacing piano ballad take on the Lawrence Arabia/ Reduction Agents' Cold Glass Tube which grows in depth over its six minutes-plus. And a previously unheard Disasteradio piece gives this nine-song collection its title.

Followers of Princess Chelsea – we count ourselves in that select company – will be pleased to have all these songs in the one place.

But as some of these provided the material for her to experiment with her own sound we'd also hope that this become a jumping-off point into a new album of original material in the first half of next year.

So in its own delightful way, this is . . . the stopgap third album?

At least it wasn't about hotel rooms and life on the road . . .

Elsewhere has a long and revealing interview with Chelsea Nikkel here.

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