Published Apr 18, 2019Kelsey Lu's debut is a continent — neither linear, nor loyal to one cardinal direction. She chases dream states on "Due West," only to arrives east "to the sounds of silence" on "Atlantic"; "KINDRED" lets its harmonies of thoughts wander twice. Blood begins with Lu's peering cello, sweet moan like petrichor, and soars from there, over all kinds of ground, her "fingers and [her] toes turning blue" from having outgrown her shoes and herself, from straining for and splashing into opposite coasts at once.
As much as they move, these songs take their time. They steep, letting their own deluge wash them from night-bug chatter into the birds of "KINDRED"'s days. They're vivid in the way visual memories are: simple and bright. The sky Kelsey Lu serenades is alive. She "wouldn't really mind/ reading aloud to the earth." She turns, "breathing while underneath birds." Mimicking the cello's amplitude, Blood's greatest mysteries are Lu's vowels, which skitter over water, or bloat to contain. Every song stops you the way a waterfall would — you can still move, but it's all around you, thundering.
Of course, not all of the sweeping is triumphant. In its final minute, "Why Knock for You" corners itself, paranoid — "can't breathe in there, need some air" — but then writhes out of its own grip. Mid-record "Foreign Car," "Poor Fake" and a cover of 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" look, and sometimes smirk, at more human objects of desire: a not-love, a silent engine, the public stamp of authenticity. "What do we have here," asks Lu as an art inspector. "Could this be / a forgery?" her Y spraying her up again, into the sky.
The final track, "Blood," opens with a bus driver announcing an exit, drenched in snaps of hands, rain, or splattering blood, only to let Lu's voice spiral. She repeats her worries — "Who's fed enough? / Who's left to trust?" — only to settle on the inevitability of beauty's descent, in spite of it all: "Love falls on us, love falls on us."
Kelsey Lu's Blood, pumping with movement and what moves us, we tiny wholes, maybe isn't a continent so much as it is a bordered body, graceful in its clunky fullness, jostling with every pothole, the cello its longing pores come to life. (Columbia)