‘Grounded in the Clouds’ is the second album from Bristol, UK-based folk singer, Lauren Bradford. Previously hailing from San Francisco bay, Bradford has also lived across the UK taking in Liverpool, Leeds, London and Bath. Unsurprisingly, the theme of travel is apparent in the album, but equally strong are representations of love, lust and loss.
Bradford’s style is laid back and at times whimsical. Her vocals are particularly delicate and are usually accompanied by acoustic guitar, violin and some light-touch percussion. ‘Freight Train’ includes some delightful guitar work that brings the movement of the train to life.
It feels like travel has been a bone of contention for Bradford as the two songs ‘Let Me Stay’ and ‘Stone’s Throw Away’ explore the two sides of should I stay or should I go. ‘Let Me Stay’ takes the stance that I’ll stay if you want: the lyrics are bleak and heart-breaking (particularly to this travel-loving, independent reviewer) “what should I do should I clip my wings for you? Well I would if you told me to”. ‘Stone’s Throw Away’ feels much stronger and Bradford makes it clear that travelling doesn’t mean she’s unreachable. Good.
‘Tell You So’ and ‘What Should Have Been’ feel more ‘produced’ and bring in more vocal harmonies and stronger, layered guitars. The result is a couple of upbeat, easy listening tracks.
Bradford’s lyrics can be surprisingly dark, songs that appear sweet and innocent upfront belie a dark story or message. Aforementioned ‘What Should Have Been’ is actually the tale of two star-crossed lovers who until now have ignored their feelings for each other. Blaming chemistry (aka lust) “tonight all our atoms align so let’s give in to chemistry”, they decide to “skip the pleasantries”.
‘Grounded in the Clouds’ is a little bit stalkery. It’s a sweet song, peppered with violins and gorgeous acoustic guitars. But lyrically… “my darling you don’t know me, but I know you’d want me too”.
The album is charming and gentle in sound. Bradford’s vocals are delightful, but it’s the lyrics that give this the edge. Bradford is unafraid to turn niceties on their head and explore the dark side of love.