11 April 2016 (released)
07 June 2016
London singer Helen Dooley and her project The Cheek of Her deliver honest, advice-laden tunes to navigate the romantic world. The 'Black Heart Mantra' EP is her fourth release.
Right from the get-go, Dooley chimes in with her thick accent to deliver a Mary Poppins-like commentary about love as if the sugar were not enough to cover up the medicine. Where most singer's British inflections get diluted in to some sort of mid-Atlantic wash between English and American, Dooley unabashedly keeps hers pure in her singing voice. This endearing quality has garnered comparisons to Lily Allen who has also kept her singing style decidedly British. Lead single '9 Lives' is wistful and jaunty. The song preaches persistence in the face of disappointments. The bridge through the end takes off like Vanessa Carlton's sing-a-long hit “A Thousand Miles”
'Give Up the Ghost' offers more “Mockney” a la Jagger. Sweet and tender musings on the frailties of modern relationships. 'The Future is Purple' continues with more of the same. A few unfortunate flutters in the autotune may take some out of it although these days many wouldn't give it a second thought. I'm not saying don't use it, everybody does. Just be careful when the vocals are so far upfront to make sure it isn't jittery. This works fine when going for super-processed sounding tracks but for these kinds of bare vocals, it's distracting.
Title track 'Black Heart Mantra' is a cut above the rest. The vocals fit much better than the rest of the record and the slightly more aggressive beat meets up with the subject matter. This one feels cohesive and taking after this song on the next record would make for a more successful effort.
The spirit behind the 'Black Heart Mantra' is refreshing and honest. It provides a guiding light for girls finding their way through their turbulent twenties. The execution, however, could be more fine-tuned.