Allo Darlin' stays honest
British act downshifts with 'We Come From the Same Place'
Elizabeth Morris' singing voice has never been strained by worry, fear, or tension. Over the past few years, the singer and songwriter behind London-based band Allo Darlin' has become as renowned for her comforting, honeyed croon as her wellspring of idyllic indie-pop songs.
But on Allo Darlin's latest album, We Come From the Same Place, Morris unlocks a new level of plush, effortless assuredness. Her voice is stronger. The distinctive clips and curls of her native Australian accent are more prominent. And whatever wrinkles previously existed in the velvet of her voice have smoothed out. Throughout their third album, Morris and her band are supremely at ease — and not by accident. The quartet, featuring Morris alongside fellow Australian Bill Botting (bass) and Brits Paul Rains (guitar) and Michael Collins (drums), formed a half-dozen years ago and quickly earned plaudits for their classic indie-pop jangle.
The band's self-titled 2010 debut is a gentle collision of plucky ukulele, propulsive rhythms, and languorous tales of love and loss. The follow-up, 2012's Europe, mines that same vein while stepping up the production.
The success of those two albums gave the band confidence that carried into the making of We Come From the Same Place. "With this one, it felt like we didn't have anything to prove," Morris says from her new home in Italy. "We're good. We can trust in ourselves and be true to ourselves, and hopefully people will like it. The approach in the studio was — 'Let's play all in the room at once and try to get the sound of us together.'"
The album's lead track, "Heartbeat," is a charmer, with Morris sighing across a jaunty uke-powered dance number. "Angela" moves more deliberately, draping a story of unrequited love atop a rubbery bass line. "Bright Eyes" is a winning duet between Morris and Rains with a sunny simple chorus: "I feel better hanging out with you!"
Meanwhile, "Romance and Adventure" and "Half Heart Necklace" are more punk-paced and overcast.
We Come From the Same Place marks a new era for Allo Darlin', one that includes day jobs and less focus on the traditional definition of success. The group has decided to "take the stress out of trying to be a band that lives off the band," Morris says, which means touring the way they want to and only as much as they want to, while keeping their music out of advertisements — a principle the self-described "stubborn" and "old-fashioned" Morris holds dear.
"I understand why musicians do that, because they live off music and it's really hard when so few people buy albums these days," Morris says. "I respect people who make that decision. It's not an easy one. But I decided that rather than make the band business-focused and have a lot more people working for us who would make us more money, we'd rather just ... keep it honest our way."
For Morris and Allo Darlin', honesty means playing the music they want to play, and We Come From the Same Place exudes the ease that accompanies that peace of mind. It's the sound of a band that's free and happy to make beautiful music, simple as that.