Go here to download Sara Lov's (of Devics) song "New York" from her upcoming album.
“Simple and sad with a shot of scotch.” That’s how musician Sara Lov describes her simultaneously dark and angelic sound that has been also described as “honeyed” (NME), “haunting” (The Sun), and “smokey” (MOJO). The former frontwoman of Devics and current solo singer paints an apt picture of melodies that are both minimalist and poignant with heady vocals that warm you from the inside.
For a singer freshly on her own, Lov (no, the “e” isn’t missing, and yes, that’s her real name) exudes immense confidence. The artist was formerly a part of indie favorite dream pop band Devics, a critical favorite in the UK where they were famously signed to Bella Union by Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymond. It is perhaps because of the success of Devics that Lov finds the idea of going out on her own exciting, if a little unnerving. “I learn every day and doing scary things makes me grow,” Lov says. “Dustin [O’Halloran, the other half of Devics] and I make wonderful music together, but like every creative person there’s always that insistent urge to write both music and lyrics for yourself, test yourself, challenge yourself.”
Lov views much of her life in a similar way – taking something frightening that could have overwhelmed others, and making it a positive influence on her life and music. At the age of five, the Hawaiian-born Lov was kidnapped by her father and taken to Israel, then Minnesota, and then ended up in L.A. at age 12 where she was raised by her uncle. “My father really encouraged me creatively,” Lov says. “The one thing I am certain of is that for most of my young life, music was the consistency and stability I had. It was my escape and my sanity.”
Perhaps that’s why Lov feels a certain nostalgia for a time in her life that most would imagine to be traumatic or marked by stolen innocence, going as far as to name her debut solo album,<i> Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming </i>(Nettwerk), after the idealism of youth. “As you get older it’s harder to find beauty and innocence in anything,” she says. “It’s easy to get jaded and loose your sense of idealism. So, to find that thing that brings you back to your ‘young eyes’ or that thing that makes you feel excited to be alive again even though you are seeing it through seasoned eyes... even if just for a moment, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Produced by Zac Rae (Fiona Apple, Annie Lennox, My Brightest Diamond), mixed by Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck), and featuring cameos from Alex Brown Church (Sea Wolf) and Solon Bixler (Great Northern), <i>Seasoned Eyes</i> shows steely confidence, even with Lov’s oft-shaky vocals. A cover of Arcade Fire’s “My Body is a Cage,” shows Lov’s versatility in her ability to turn an already stunning song even more gorgeous, filling out the instrumentals with cello, Ukulele, pump organ, and celesta.
On her original tracks, Lov is similarly inventive. “Animals,” which Lov describes as a breakup song, is a dramatic musical dialogue between Lov and Alex Brown Church led by jaunty, child-like guitar picking.
It’s Lov’s lyrics, though, which are the highlight of her music, and the part she is most reluctant to talk about, preferring instead for listeners to interpret on their own. On “Fountain,” over mournful strings and theatrical keys, Lov sings “Fountain, fountain, we are the same / all that anyone ever has for you are the things you reflect back to them,” and with restrained anger, “Don’t you wish you could throw your pennies back at them.”
On “Animals,” Lov reflects on what she learned from a broken relationship: “I never, never learned to swim until you came around and pushed me in”,” she sings. With “A Thousand Bees,” she works on letting go and moving on, as she sings “How sweet is the revenge when you don’t want it anymore / How meaningless the defense when you’re not fighting anymore,” over a rapidly tapped snare and swelling keys. On “Tell Me How,” she expresses, “I’m really good at getting hurt babe / Not so great at feeling good.”
For an artist who was curious about recording and performing on her own, Lov has proven she had little to be concerned about. “I had always wanted to make a solo record but I guess I never believed I could do it on my own,” she says. “I’m really glad I did it, a whole world opened up to me.” Listeners to Seasoned Eyes Were Beaming are certain to be just as pleased.