ALBUM: Lael Neale – Star Eaters Delight review

By Craig Howieson

On Star Eaters Delight, Lael Neale is on revelatory form

Star Eaters Delight is a beacon on the horizon of some dimly lit and dusty desert. Pulsing with an entrancing glow it casts light where none previously existed, and guides you into Lael Neales world where simplicity and complexity walk hand in hand. Neale uses a simple set of tools for her songcraft, with each track often relying on just two or three instruments. But with her now trademark use of Omnichord and electronic drums she creates sonic landscapes that are far greater than the sum of their parts.

It is somewhat ironic that the album was written following a retreat from LA to her family’s farm in Virginia. While Star Eaters Delight retains Neales subtle country influences, it very much feels like a record that would be at home in the artier neighbourhoods of a sprawling metropolis. There is a city chic to tracks such as the brilliant lead single I am the River that could have found her co-headlining shows with The Velvet Underground in another life. 

Through using simple building blocks, Neale creates a tension that makes even the subtlest of changes seem revelatory. Whether that is the sudden strum of electric guitar on No Holds Barred or the orchestral swells of Must Be Tears, each moment is given due care and attention. The sprawling tone poem of In Verona is a particularly poignant reckoning.

At times, it feels like Neale is singing from the pages of a tattered hymn book; her words both nostalgically familiar and truly enlightening. She realises that it is the little events that define a life, and on Star Eaters Delight, in both simple and complex ways, she is celebrating the beauty of simple connection.

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