It’s been a long day and now the skies are very dark and ominous. What do these two things have to do with each other? In actuality, very little but, in my mind, it has me looking for some music that is comforting and relaxing. Will Louise Distras’ new album ‘Beauty After Bruises’ do the trick? Let’s take a listen and find out!
This album kicks off with “Truth In Your Lies” and I knew within the first couple of beats that this was going to do just the trick. An indie-pop sensibility in the instrumentation with a bit more grit and punk edge in the vocals, this opening track was hitting the spot. There’s a sense of power and triumphant energy throughout this song that made it a super enjoyable yet all-too-quick listen. I was most struck by Louise’s vocals. The way she has an almost harsh inflection on some words and a sense of beauty and tenderness in others had me absolutely captivated and anxiously awaiting what else I may get from this album.
“Girl in the Mirror” shows a whole new side to Louise’s vocals. Sure, I know this is only the second track but I honestly thought I had her pegged after “Truth In Your Lies”. I couldn’t have been further from reality with that thought. There’s a sense of soul that comes through in her voice during this second song. The brightness I got from the opening song seems to have been replaced by something just a bit more dark and sinister while still keeping the very triumphant mood overall. Lyrically, I felt like this song was speaking to me. Come on, you know I’m not going to give it away because I really want you to check ‘Beauty After Bruises’ out for yourself but the words in this song have a sense of depth that left me lost for words and almost breathless.
Although “Love and Money” wasn’t my favorite song on this album, there’s no denying the sheer power that comes with every element of this track. You truly see the vocal powerhouse that Louise is throughout this song and you get that slight sense of grit heard in “Truth In Your Lies” but also get that darkness hinted towards in “Girl in the Mirror”. The rollercoaster of this ride is just as insane as the talent heard. A ridiculously infectious chorus is sandwiched between slow and almost somber portions of the song making for a very unique listen that keeps you on your toes. I was so just enamored by “Love and Money” that the transition into the full band sound you get with “Factory Girl” was a bit shocking to be quite honest. Focusing more on that grit and power that Louise does so well, this song was an instant favorite of mine. I loved the way the lyrics of this song seemed to play off of those in “Love and Money” in an almost too perfect way. Another thing I loved about this fourth track was the introduction to an almost psychedelic influence. Again, a left-fielder but, at this point, that’s about what I would expect from Louise Distras.
I know it’s not Monday and I know “Monday” isn’t the main word of this song but I will absolutely be keeping “Broken Mondays” in my back pocket for an overwhelming Monday. This song gave me so much hope and so much light in a way that I so badly needed today (even though it’s not a Monday but I digress). Again, I found myself struck by the triumphant and resilient energy that Louise has. Although lyrically there were moments where I felt like this leaned a bit too far into a religious theme for me, I was able to look past that just due to the energy that came with the track.
This album moves quickly and, before I knew it, I had hit the half way part with “Hollywood Drug”. Another uber powerful song with a staggering amount of heart and passion drenching each word in the song, this is one of those tracks where I just sat back in my seat and let the song take me over. Again, with the juxtaposition of a ridiculously infectious chorus with deeper verses and bridges, I loved the ride that this song took me on but, before I knew it, I was off of it and onto the next ride, “Time Heals Nothing”. The way the power of “Hollywood Drug” falls completely to the wayside to give way to a more singer-songwriter vibe in “Time Heals Nothing” is a thing of beauty and genius. It’s a start contrast but it creates a dramatic movement throughout this album that kept me on the edge of my seat and ready but unsure for what would come with the next track.
“Forever Is You” continues to focus on the more somber beauty of Louise Distras. I love the smoky flavor you get from this song. There’s a bit of a nod to the soulful nature of her vocals that I got in “Girl in the Mirror” but there’s also another nod to the more psychedelic vibe heard in “Love and Money”. This blend along with goosebump inducing vocal notes make for yet another stunning listen. I honestly feel a bit like a broken record at this point but I really just can not emphasize the talent and range of Louise throughout this album enough so, if you’re sick of reading the same thing over and over again about each song on this album, go ahead and just check it out for yourself.
Okay, you’re still here. Let’s move onto “Single But Taken”. The attitude in this track instantly had me hooked. It almost has a biker-babe vibe to it but I know that’s not an “actual description”. I will say that I think you’ll get it when you hear it. It’s just got a bit more of a sharp tongue to it (which could probably be inferred by the title). Where as some of the songs that showcase Louise’s attitude seem to take a bit of a somber mood to them, this one brings a more riot grrrl vibe. That’s not to say that this is a punk song as it is far from that but it is just a super anthemic and powerful “hear her roar” type of song that, naturally, I was all about and instantly addicted to.
Just when I was settling into this new found attitude on the album, “Run with Wild Horses” brings it back to a more singer-songwriter vibe that reminded me a bit of KT Tunstall. It still has that triumphant energy that Louis does oh so well but it also brings things back to basics with a bit more of a singer-songwriter type vibe. Even with that being said, there’s a definite poppy factor to this song that will get it stuck in your head nearly instantly and make you want to listen to it again and again and again and again and…
There was a giant crack of thunder as soon as “Black Skies” took over my speakers. It seemed a bit ominous but also absolutely a sign. This powerful track kicks off with a spoken word portion done by Steve’s Ignorant Slice of Life. I have to be honest, that name meant nothing to me prior to hearing this song but I want to know everything there is to know about “Steve’s Ignorant Slice of Life” after hearing the intro to this song and feeling the power. Louise keeps the rebellious attitude up throughout this song making it another instant favorite of mine. Honestly, this song has such a punk attitude that I am willing to put Louise into a bit of a punk box solely based off this one song. It’s just done so well and it makes me wonder if Louise should just give in and front a punk band. She clearly has the talent and ear for it after hearing “Black Skies”.
It seems only fitting that ‘Beauty After Bruises’ would end with “Keep on Trying”. This final track brings the album back full circle and ends with her distinct sense of resilience and power in a beautiful way. I know I’ve said about half of these songs have been my favorite but “Keep On Trying” really was just the cherry on top. It was a gorgeous and stunning way to end a truly monumental and impressive album.
Dear Louise Distras– where have you been all my life?
Seriously, though. There seems to be life before you hear Louise Distras and then life after you hear her– I’ll see you over here– on the side where everything just feels a wee bit brighter and better.
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