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REVIEW: LUCIE THORNE - BLACK ACROSS THE FIELD
Black  Across The Field

Lucie Thorne
Black Across The Field

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The Rushing Dark (Single)

Lucie Thorne
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Bonfires In Silver City

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Where Night Birds Call

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The Bud

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Botticelli Blue Eyes

Lucie Thorne
Botticelli Blue Eyes

Martin Jones, Rythms Magazine March 2009

I jealously look at photos of Lucie Thorne's remote home on the south coast of NSW, and imagine her peace and fulfillment writing, recording and gardening, and wonder, would she even want to be as successful and well-known as she deserves to be? Because without exaggeration Black Across The Field is as good as anything I've heard this year. I fondly recall Where The Night Birds Call and the intimate shows Thorne did up this way as highlights of 2007. As Thorne has blossomed as a singer-songwriter over her four previous records, all signs indicated that Black Across The Field would be spectacular. The album exceeds all expectations and largely because of the musicians Thorne has teamed up with to help produce it. That's not to dismiss Thorne's role ­ her gently powerful voice is more affecting than ever and her songs more diverse and profound. But in drummer Hamish Stuart and Dave Symes (both of whom can be heard backing Jackie Orszaczky on Ready To Listen), she gained some potent allies. The trio tracked most of the record live in a few days after which Thorne took it home to flesh it out with nuances subtle and breathtaking. There's some fantastic electric guitar playing on this record ­ courtesy of Heath Cullen and special guest Stephen Magnusson (and Thorne herself) ­ some of it growling with warm tube overdrive (track 2, Alice being a glorious example), some of it stinging like Neil Young (Over In Threes). There’s also some sweet electric piano swelling in and out of the songs, some of it courtesy of Chris Abrahams. Though Thorne is always great at stealing your breath with her whispers, I particularly like the more muscular and melodic adventures on Black Across The Field, tracks like Alice and the skipping pop of The Basic Rules. I’m looking forward to spending the year really getting to know this record.



Bernard Zuel - Sydney Morning Herald (March 20 2009)

Gentle chanteuse delivers quiet perfection...
There are only two people in the room when you're listening to this album: Lucie Thorne and you. There is a band (of which, more later) and co-producer Thorne does not put herself any more forward than necessary but extraneous noises, other people in the house, floating voices on the wind, all drift away as you listen.
There is such an intensity of feeling here that you feel guilty even lifting your attention away briefly, like inadvertently yawning from the tension while a friend is telling you a compelling secret.
However, what is particularly striking about this effect is that there is no sense of claustrophobia, none of that overwhelming sucking-up of all the space that some one-on-one albums can manifest.
Thorne isn't insisting on your attention; she just gives you little reason to want to leave or lose focus. Which is why at the end you don't feel wrung out but rather, enlivened.
In mood and approach the closest comparison I can make is with Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball album. There is a similar thickened atmosphere, a similar collection of stories that speaks small but resonates much bigger and a similar build-up of moody folk, country noir and the spookily atmospheric hints of Kate Bush.
Then there is the way Thorne occupies the centre, singing just above a whisper, conversationally you might say, but landing deceptively solid blows. She marks out her space with some fabulous sensuality, never more so than in When The Lights Go Down, which says everything without having to say much at all.
Drummer Hamish Stuart and bass player David Symes (who both co-produced) will probably mostly go unheralded as this album becomes better known but their fluidity, a feather-light jazz touch, is absolutely crucial to the success of the songs. In the quietest moments, they never impose, never seem to be pulling you in any direction but guide you with deft rhythmic paths that keep an undercurrent of movement. There is something of the subtle rhythms Van Morrison had at his disposal in Astral Weeks.
And when Thorne opens the throttle a little, Stuart and Symes can add a bit of blues heft just as easily without feeling the need to compete. Build your album around this kind of intuitive skill and you're well on the way to something pretty special. Thorne has done just that.






Noel Mengel (THE COURIER MAIL March 18, 2009)
Lucie Thorne & Andrew Morris break out of the square...

The job of the artist, apart from articulating our emotions for us, is to keep on moving, finding fresh ways to express themselves and make us smile, cry, heal.
Here is an admirable Australian singer-songwriter who find ways around the sensitive-soul-with-acoustic-guitar stereotype.
Sure Lucie Thorne can do that thing with the intimacy of songs like When the Lights Go Down (it's about desire, but not in the way you think), the small-town yearnings of Northern Song and the spare, elegant poetry of Please Don't Let's Begin.
This is music that can be tender and taut, full of the subtle nuances of real life as opposed to the black-and-white world of simple pop.
But there's more to her album Black Across the Field (Vitamin): the tough guitar and autumnal shades of Alice, the haunting slow-mo rock of Under the Night and the quickening pulse of Over In Threes with its Neil Young-esque guitar lines.
Thorne's pop heart is to the fore on the thrilling The Basic Rules, the kind of made-for-radio treat that Fleetwood Mac could toss off back in the day.
And right up front is a voice with a quality that keeps drawing the listener in.
Fans of, say, Richard and Linda Thompson and the Finn Brothers, or younger writers like Teddy Thompson and Sun Kil Moon, explore with confidence…
Hopefully, Black Across the Field will help Thorne reach out to the wider audience she richly deserves.



David Curry, The Canberra Time 2009

It's been fascinating tracing Lucie Thorne's move from the acoustic folk/pop of Botticelli Blue Eyes, through the first experiment with electric guitars on Where Night Birds Call, and now to Black Across the Field, where she arrives at her own musical space. Thorne's songs have always been exquisite miniatures of distilled emotion  sung affectingly in her low, whispery voice, but here the music has a third dimension that has sometimes been missing.
Black Across The Field finds the warmth and space of Thorne’s (and Heath Cullen's) muted electric playing embellished with almost unfeasibly subtle bass and drums, and velvety keyboards courtesy of Stu Hunter and Chris Abrahams. The songs are among her best, touching on childhood trauma, regret, infatuation and desire, with much of the meaning left to the simmering emotion of the delivery. Thorne's melodies and harmonies are frequently sublime, and the way she pits grinding guitars against that ethereal, sensuous voice, such as in the ominous Over In Threes, is compelling - like watching a violent thunderstorm in the distance. By turns darker and tender Black Across The Field is a beautiful album.









Yumi Sed, Rave Magazine 2009


Fifth release from Melbourne songbird Black Across The Field was recorded, predominately, in Thorn’s home and you can hear that intimacy in each track. Utilising a close mic placement technique, the lyrics sound as though they are being whispered in your ear. She has power down low but it’s the high notes that she only just makes that are the most appealing – the flaws of this album are some of its most charming moments. The record dances between alt-folk blues and a PJ Harvey-style drone with production moving into Howling Bells territory at times. Although she plays live with a band, Thorne’s guitar and voice take centre stage on this release with drums, bass and synths making economical contributions. The songs are melancholic and brooding, forever staying in the minor key, but the rhythm of her playing creates the illusion of an occasionally upbeat album. This album deserves multiple spins in order to fully appreciate the subtly of Thorn’s writing.



Andy Hazel, Inpress 2009


Opening with the gentle plucked swells of escapist ballad As You Find It Lucie Thorne’s understated guitar and vocal interplay rolls in like a fog. As with the whole album, Thorne sings from places she knows well. Following the Nick Drake theory of ‘no matter how loud you turn it up, it’s still quiet,’ Thorne cuts her own niche from the acoustic masses by specialising in gently percolating nocturnes that could be penned by PJ Harvey after waking in a Tasmanian poppy field. Roping in an impressive ensemble including everyone’s pianist of choice Chris Abrahams (does that man sleep? Judging by his somnambulistic contributions herein it seems not, and that Thorne has benefited from it), the similarly ubiquitous David Symes and Hamish Stuart round out the rhythm section while Thorne’s able guitar playing is enhanced by Stephen Magnusson’s fluid contributions. Thorne is quite clearly in no hurry to find her audience and this attitude comes through in the music, strong, wilful and as if beamed in from a remote corner of this island. That she was raised in Northern Tasmania and lives in a tiny town in the south of New South Wales fits the mood of the album perfectly. Occasionally her accent curls words in a way that almost detracts from the lush but simple world she creates, it’s a habit that clearly doesn’t bother Waifs fans and won’t bother most listeners, but it roots her in the here and now and probably sounds exotic to her overseas fans.There is an appealing looseness to the songs in a way that keeps things from being too measured and a warm lulling quality should appeal to anyone looking for an escape from a cold clinical world. Northern Town, the gentle valve-crunch of Alice, the gossamer light Before The Cold and the upbeat and probable single The Basic Rules show that Thorne has a lot on her mind and poetic and original way of expressing it. A bright star rising, and one worth all the attention she receives.






Sarah Howells, J MAG 2009


Lucie Thorne has a hauntingly beautiful voice – the kind of simple sound that makes you want to relax in the sunshine or go on a road trip across this great brown land of ours – with this CD in the player. And it is the distinct Australian flavour of this release that, to me, makes it so charming.Her fifth release, Black Across the Field, is filled with intimate poetry and compelling stories, like lost love in ‘Northern Town’: “There’s a girl out there that I’ve known and it’s her that I’m thinking of/ He kicks himself for what he could’ve had..."Songs like ‘Basic Rules’ are entrancing, pulling you in closer to hear what it is that happens to the “Woman breaking her own heart.” Most of the album was tracked live in a Sydney studio in just three days, and then taken home by Lucie to her cottage on the far south coast of NSW to grow. And they have, her intricate guitar work and brooding vocals melding perfectly to create a package of characters and stories that keeps you spellbound.



Billy Pinnell, MAG 2009


Blessed by an expressive, breathy voice revealing undeniable Aussie inflections, Lucie Thorne hits the bullseye with album five. After demo-ing the material at home, Thorne joined with drummer Hamish Stuart (Mighty Reapers, Ghostwriters) and bass guitarist Dave Symes (Missy Higgins), adding guitar – and in post production expanding the soundscape with guests pianist Chris Abrahams and guitarist Stephen Magnusson. Strong narratives and sparse arrangements complement stories of lust, missed opportunities and childhood memories, with electric guitars up front on the ominous Over in Threes.



Patrick Lang, dbmag


The opening track of 'Black Across The Field', As You Find It, is undoubtedly one of the loveliest songs you'll hear all year. With its brushed drums, cautious electric guitars and mellow piano playing, it's simply beautiful as Thorne's honey-like voice drifts over the top. Sounding somewhat like a more fully-backed Holly Throsby, Thorne is definitely a major talent in Australia's burgeoning folk singer-songwriter scene. 


While the album struggles to match the majesty of the opener (Lucie gets caught under too much chuggy rock guitar, reminiscent of Julie Doiron's decent work, and occasionally things head too much towards breathy-nothingness) there are still moments of utter glory. The most successful of these are usually when Thorne confounds expectations and plays against type. While her simple acoustic moments are touching and grounded, the indie electric guitar rhythms of The Basic Rules spell out a sure fire hit somewhere down the line. 



Likewise, the dark and menacing Under The Night proves a highlight, with a snaky bass line underpinning the aggressive rhythm section as Thorne slips on her sultry voice to deliver a damn sexy vocal. On the other end of the scale, Thorne gets close to matching the quality of the opener on the very pretty Northern Town, a story of small town love and isolation. 



All the pieces on display here are ably backed by a band of confident musicians, and at times the songwriting shows genuine talent and invention. The album highlights are obvious, but that doesn't make the rest irrelevant. If this strong collection of songs is anything to go by, Thorne's next release will be nearly perfect. For now, this is a great low-key, laid back album with some exceptionally strong and beautiful moments. 




Alison Sciascia, RTR FM 2009


Often in the depth of emotional stirrings emerge some of the most honest and touching music and this is certainly true on retrospect with Lucie Thorne’s new album Black Across the Field. One gets the sense of intimate longing and loss in her lyrics with contemplations of life in small town Australia. Her moody folk rock intonations are gentle and unassuming but sensually delivered to make this album a seemingly true reflection of self. A dark, almost haunting atmosphere of simple acoustic melodies are reminiscent of Neil Young and her deeply smooth vocal lines are more ambient but akin to Frou Frou’s Imogen Heap; touching and emotive. Country stirrings are ever present in style and story with Northern Town painting a vivid picture of repentant romance under a starry sky. Although as a listener I found myself longing for some kind of melodic development and perhaps more range than a vague tempered emotion which runs it current throughout. Over in Threes is the best attempt at this where a tempo change lightens the mood and creates some drama. She certainly lends a tender touch to the world of folk pop and has created a subtle realism to her swaying aural landscape.



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Bernard Zuel, SMH 2009


LUCIE THORNE grew up in Launceston, home of David Boon and bewiskered axeman David Foster. So rather than some folk-and-rock singer-songwriter who has made one of the finer records of the year so far with Black Across The Field, she really should be a beer-drinking, wood-chopping type, right?


“Bloody oath,” Thorne says indignantly.“I am. I play a pretty mean game of cricket and I’m great with an axe. And I like a few beers. I’ve got all those special Launcestonian skills.”


So how does she really rate on the Boonie scale of beer consumption? “Well, I shouldn’t boast,” she says with an audible smirk. “Something frightening, I’m sure.”Though the “pretty town” still pulls her back regularly, Thorne was in a hurry to leave when she turned 18.


“I remember moving to Melbourne and being on trams surrounded by people speaking at least six different languages and it was really a pretty exciting change.”But Thorne didn’t need to leave her Tasmanian home to experience broader culture, with her mother a lover of music and her father the famous poet Tim Thorne.


“I was definitely always surrounded by books and music and it was a very social house, always lots of drunken poets and big conversations,” she recalls.


Interestingly, she says in her press material that as a child she was torn between being Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell and the next member of AC/DC but she doesn’t mention wanting to be a poet.


“No. I’ve always loved words, I’ve always read a lot but for a long time I had a bit of a hang-up about writing. I think in a weird way I needed to rebel against that, so when I started writing songs I was adamant that I didn’t write anything that was in the poem form, which was kind of a bit silly, really.”


For all that early rebellion, Thorne is an excellent lyricist capable of creating the kind of prose that leaves lasting images on your imagination. Take, for example, the first verse of the song Alice: “She liked to think of them as creatures/Lining up along the road right there on display/Sometimes she would tell them secrets/Lean her head against the frame, watching them sway.”


“People talk about painting pictures,” she says, “but for me it’s not that so much as maybe pointing to something, often quite ambiguous I guess, and giving them listener enough to go on so that they can feed her own imagination and paint their own pictures.”


The suggestion of space is also provided by the restrained playing on Black Across The Field by the kind of excellent musicians who don’t need to impress you by imposing themselves but do it by what they don’t play.


“I had been a bit suspicious at first, thinking I don’t need some fancy session dudes on my record, I could just make it at home. When I first played with Hamish [Stuart, drummer and co-producer with Thorne], we sat and talked about how he heard the songs and it really piqued my interest. Everything he said just rang true with me about the kind of spacious record we could make with these songs. Then with Hamish and Dave [Symes, bassist and co-producer] it was so easy.”


“It was such a delight.”


Thorne was also excited by the way these subtle, jazz-trained musicians were able to muscle up some of the songs.


“Of course, there’s all this gentle, spacious, sparkly stuff but the crunchier, grittier songs to me are a massive rock’n’roll show,” she laughs. “Which I realize is my own endearing perspective.”


Or maybe that could be the Launceston coming through.




Ainslie Hall, Canberra Live - 2009
Lucie Thorne has truly found her niche in the world of Australian music. A
well impressed audience sat watching, feeling special and loved by her
humble voice, regularly calling the crowd "a friendly bunch". An interesting
mix of guitars created interesting changes throughout the set, mostly soft
and tranquil tunes, occasionally erupting into an exciting jam session,
something that can only be described as organic and free.

Lucie sent the band out the back a few times to give the crowd a little
taste of her solo sounds, with beautiful songs of love and tragedy and of
winter and summer. She also performed a song by a good friend, which seemed
very personal; it was indeed one of the most effective songs. As the
audience felt warm and cosy in the hall, it seemed the perfect location for
such a beautiful performance. So intimate and peaceful yet it held so much
energy which flew around the room. Especially when the band returned to the
stage and backed Lucie up in a variety of old tunes and new songs from the
most recent album Black Across the Field. Her deep lyrics, blended with
strong guitar rifts, cruisy bass and drums that kicked up a storm, were
consistently entertaining.

Their were a number of children in the audience that seemed captivated by
Lucie's genuine music, so soothing that one could easily be put to sleep,
even the adults, but the show was much too intriguing to have that effect.
An obviously dedicated fan base saw many of the audience contribute to
Lucie's conversations and everyone seemed like friends. Tables and chairs
were set up around the set, and black curtains draped along the walls,
creating a very small environment which added to the intimacy. The smell of
the warm chai tea and mini muffins aroused the senses and accompanied the
snug candle-lit surroundings.

Lucie and the band had recently returned from touring around the country
side, spreading the word of the latest album. The heartfelt music brings
people together and captures the true meaning of talent. Once the set came
to an end, the boots were banging on the floor for more and an encore was
delivered, a sweet little song called "Alice" that summed up her style. Her
fascinating movements showed her love for music, and the profound lyrics
were easy to relate to, something everyone has once experienced or felt for
themselves.

The night ended on an easy note, everyone stretched and sighed in
appreciation for the lovely performance Lucie provided. They effortlessly
floated about making their way out of the hall with smiles on their faces
and a slight distance from the world as they absorbed the atmosphere and the
show that had just sadly came to an end. This was something people needed,
and something they will crave in the very near future.

Readings Monthly, 2009

"Largely unknown but highly talented Lucie Thorne
was raised in Tassie, lived in Melbourne for a time and
now calls the tiny hamlet of Bimbaya in the Bega Valley
(NSW) home. This new album, recorded in part at her home
studio, will hopefully see her find the larger audience she
deserves.





This is one of the finest female vocal albums released by an
Australian in the last few years. The whole album - from her band,
to production, to the songs - is first-rate...make the effort to seek this
fine album out".



Chris Peken - Alt Media Group, 2009

"It will surprise many to hear that /Black Across the Field /is
Lucie Thorne’s fifth album. Not because it doesn’t sound like an
accomplished work of an established artist, but because many will
hear this and wonder why on earth they haven’t heard the name
Lucie Thorne before. That Thorne is accompanied by names like
Hamish Stuart, Dave Symes and Chris Abrahams should tell you much.
Such quality players do not give their time to light-weights.
With the slow burn rock of Sun Kil Moon and the depth of voice
of Joni Mitchell, Thorne is insidious in her ability to borrow down
into your psyche, drawing you closer...she knows exactly what is
required and when."



Lucie Performing on DIG Radio
http://abcdigmusic.net.au/features/watch-lucie-thorne-live-in-concert

Boris Kelly - Arts Hub, April 2010

I was lucky enough to catch Lucie Thorne at that Blue Mountains' bastion of good music, The Clarendon, on a clear autumn night with only a handful of appreciative fans in the room. I knew nothing of her work and had been drawn to the gig by a scruffy poster pasted up somewhere on Katoomba Street. I’ve since learned that Thorne has been favourably compared to Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Margo Timmins, Shawn Colvin and Gillian Welch, comparisons which, although flattering for the recipient, are not especially useful to a critic when considering the work of a singularly distinctive artist.



The last time I saw a solo singer-songwriter backed by a full drum kit was at a memorable Tony Joe White gig at The Basement way back in the day, so it was with some surprise and a little excitement that I noted the lovely Guild semi-acoustic electric standing next to a well equipped drum kit with no evidence of any other instruments. Surprise turned to intense anticipation when Thorne took the stage with legendary drummer Hamish Stuart, a man whose impeccable musical credentials include a long stint as part one of the rhythm section for the late, great Jackie Orszaczky, part two being bass player Dave Symes. Lucky Lucie Thorne had the benefit of the Symes-Stuart collective experience when they collaborated with her as co-producers on her most recent album Black Across the Field and the results were on show that night at The Clarendon.



Thorne has a pillow talk voice that draws the listener into an intimate relationship with her songs. Her stage presence is quietly confident and assured her guitar playing has a moody minimalism which in combination with spare, nuanced melodies allows lots of open space for Stuart to layer the live sound with filigrees of cymbal and brushes, bells and assorted tinkling supported by a steady, perfectly placed pulse. I found myself drawn in quiet awe to Stuart's low key solo spots, executed in sympathetic precision with Thorne's playing. The intense communication between the two musicians pulls the listener into stories told in songs set against the philosophical and emotional terrain of that enduring leitmotif of alt.country, the musician on the road.



As a lyricist, Thorne is drawn to the country noir genre, as the title of her latest record suggests. When the Lights Go Down is told in the first person, present tense voice of a fan in a crowd watching the performance of an artist she is clearly besotted with. In a deft twist Thorne reverses the roles giving the scenario a slightly sinister, narcissicistic edge.



When the lights go down, I'll be staring out
I want you to know this feels like my private show.



In Under the Night, Thorne opts for a heavily distorted guitar sound that cuts against the sexy sweetness of her vocals. The tone is perfectly judged for the delivery of a story of unrequited desire.



The blinds are up, I'm watching the sky
I can't sleep, it's been the longest night
Replaying what you said
It churns with the chop and whir of the fan above this bed



I'm on fire
I wanna be by your side



Driving down these thoughts of you
Another lousy night in another noisy room
But that 'what would it be like'
Keeps clamouring underneath
all these other people's dogs and cars and fights



In Before The Cold, Thorne delivers a beautiful, almost elegiac poem in the voice of a mother whose two sons have gone to war, giving a telling insight into the private world of families caught up in the deadly theatre of global conflict.



Hold on, I hold on to the past
Before the cold crept inside
You had the clearest eyes
Your father and I
Watched you wonder, laugh and cry
For gentler things.



In live performance, Lucie Thorne moves effortlessly through the emotional modes and lyrical landscapes of her repertoire. Her loose banter with Stuart and scattered chat with the audience gives the show the fluid, informal atmosphere of a soirée at which the listener is a special guest. The critical response to Black Across the Field has been adulatory and justifiably so because she is a rare talent, the kind of artist that stands out in the overcrowded field that is blues-roots. As an endorsement of her artistic credentials Universal Records included Thorne's When The Lights Go Down on a recently released two CD compilation, 'Chillseeker'. She is in esteemed company on the album with other artists including Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Joan As Policewoman, Ray LaMontagne, Nick Drake, Neko Case, Jeff Buckley, Regina Spektor, Florence + The Machine, Sia, and I could go on.....



My accidental discovery of Lucie Thorne was a bright, shining star in the autumn firmament. Watching her play I was left with the sense of their being no separation between the person and the work and that, in my view, is the mark of a true artist. I can't recall what her encore tune was on the night but it could well have been the sad, sweet solo performance of Open Sky.



I'll leave you with the crowd
and the coloured lights
All the happy noise
the drunken laughing shouts



Tonight I'm just a broken girl
I can barely trust even my own self
So I'm warning you, I'm telling you straight
I got lost along the way



Lucie Thorne with Hamish Stuart








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