The Kaje talks Reclaimed to Louise Latham

Welsh songstress Louise Latham blew The Kaje away with her recently released debut album “Reclaimed”. An effortless, timeless release, Latham has far from followed the current trends, yet still managed to release a fully relevant and provoking debut. With echoes of many of the all-time great female soloists-from the American: Paula Cole, Tori Amos and Sarah MacLachlan, through the homegrown: Kate Bush and Nerina Pallot, Latham’s versatile vocal and ethereal presence are both uplifting and engaging. With the female vocalist still holding strong at the forefront of the music scene, Latham introduces an interesting side step from the power ballad and soul lament. In a class entirely of her own, Latham needs no comparison, simply an introduction. For that reason, The Kaje wasted no time in inviting Latham to Kensington Palace Park for a quick chat to find out more…

“Reclaimed” is your debut album – are you ready for it be released?

Reclaimed has been a labour of love, an incredible amount of passion and commitmen thas gone into the making of it! There has to be a point however where you let a creative endeavour go out into the world and thankfully I feel this naturally. I am ready to share the album and I have a wonderful team surrounding Reclaimed that understand and appreciate the music. My manager Maarten Sol has beautifully crafted a plan for release and we are enjoying seeing the whole campaign and months of dedicated preparation unfold!

Can you tell us a little about the thought process behind the album?

When I was thinking about the songs I wanted to include for Reclaimed I realised that I wanted to tell a story, not only within each song but also within the album as a whole. I have always been drawn to wistful stories full of longing and yearning for someone or something, you can see this in my writing. I wanted Reclaimed to tell the story of reclamation, about returning to something that you have lost. I brought together songs that had that particular theme or atmosphere and decided I wanted to record them with a full, rich analogue sound evocative of the beauty found in early Joni Mitchell records like “Blue”.

What would you say were your lyrical inspirations for the record?

Stylistically, I think I’ve been inspired by the writings of John Fowles and Daphne du  Maurier. In the novels by both of these authors there is an atmosphere created in the books that is haunting and evocative. I am drawn to this style of story telling. The stories I tell when I write are created spontaneously in the moment, on the record the songs take their inspiration from awakened memories and feelings of longing for a lost love.

How did you settle on the title ‘Reclaimed’?

The central theme is reclaiming something that has been lost and renewing it to its former glory. Either the memory of a loved one, your identity and freedom, the stories and souls of the past or the melody of a beautiful moment in time. Sometimes returning can be as intense and moving as discovery.

The album has a mixture of sonic influences – who would you say had the greatest impact?

I think that would have to be Sarah McLachlan. The sound I discovered in “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” was a combination of raw intimacy with epic, cinematic arrangements. The piano and her voice are the central instruments and around these are layers of rich instrumentation. “Reclaimed” has a similar feel, the producer Arno Guveau and myself wanted to create something pure and earthy with mainly strings and vocal harmonies surrounding the voice and piano to create a celtic, magical and haunting sound. The sound is organic and intimate whilst being uplifting and dynamic.

Reviews are citing similarities to Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Paula Cole and Cara Dillon. How do you feel about these?

There is something common to all these artists, they have a purity of vision and commitment to their music. Musically, the piano is one of the main instruments on these artist’s records and is used in a cinematic way. Writing myself on the piano I think I am naturally drawn to this instrument being used to tell the story. Also each of these artists has an ethereal and pure quality to their voice which I also take as an inspiration.

What have been the best and worst comparisons you have heard?

The best comparison would have to be Sarah McLachlan as her music has continued to move and inspire me as each album is released. There is an honesty and integrity to her creativity and her voice is sublime. The worst comparison was when someone  compared me to an artist I don’t sound remotely like, this was a bit confusing!

“Erase Me” is the current single from the record-what made it stand out for you?

Erase Me is one of my most dramatic tracks and has an energy that is very direct and immediate. I thought I would like to start with one of my rawer, more candid songs. The song is about being stalked and is deeply personal.

How do you set about choosing the singles?

They are usually songs that have a strong sense of universality. When myself and my manager were selecting singles, we concentrated on the songs that we felt were the most open, dynamic and memorable. Maarten did research into the popularity of certain songs from the album by approaching several listeners and asking them to choose their favourite track. It was obvious from feedback which tracks should be the singles.

If you had to recommend a skip to track, which would it be and why?

I would recommend you skip to track 8, as ‘Young Boy’ has a beautiful and haunting double bass intro! The story is about the transition of a young boy moving from childhood into adulthood and how we deal with hurt during this time.

What is your personal highlight on the album?

“Gilded Bird” is a cinematic song that takes you on a journey from land, across the sea. The production (by Arno Guveau) is so atmospheric.The harmonies and strings glide  and soar reflecting the flight of the bird. Also I feel very connected to this song as vocally it is one of my most expansive – deep low notes reaching to long sustained high ones!

What are your hopes for the record?

I hope that “Reclaimed” finds listeners around the world, that it connects with people and that its success leads to many more albums to come.

You have been building a fan base on the live circuit – do you prefer performing to recording?

With live performances there is an exchange with the musicians on stage and the audience and this is really spontaneous and intimate. I definitely feel more vulnerable and laid bare emotionally when I perform which is where the intimacy happens. For me, when recording it is about creating a feeling of safety so the creative collaboration between the producer, artist and musicians can blossom. I love both performing live and recording, both are fulfilling and challenging.

What has been your live highlight?

I had a recent performance at Blackheath Halls, London on a Bosendorfer grand piano which was a real treat. I performed with a wonderful cellist called Sacha McCulloch and the combination of the acoustics in the room, the quietness of the audience and the richness of these two instruments meant I was in sonic heaven!

Which song do you most look forward to performing?

‘Saint’, it has a poignancy and lyrically a universality which connects with people. Understanding and accepting loved ones imperfections is something I think many of us struggle with and is the main theme of the song. Whenever I perform this song it resonates, it always has meaning and relevance in my life.

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