Kelsey Lu Blood
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Kelsey Lu Blood Colombia

“Blood is a recognition of the Pain, the Horror and the Beauty of finding the ability to observe it all in order to move through it,” explains Kelsey Lu in a press release. After escaping a strict Jehovah’s Witness upbringing and finding solace in music, the North Carolina-born cellist and singer/songwriter – who has collaborated with Solange, Kelela and Sampha – is casting out her demons on one of the year’s most unique debut albums.

There won’t be many pop-adjacent debuts in 2019 that begin with a solitary line of cello pizzicato. Kelsey Lu demonstrates a synergy with the centuries-old instrument that takes it to modern climes and sees her voice seamlessly run alongside the notes. The silky, driving soul of Due West features Skrillex as a producer, while Knock for You incorporates production work from Jamie xx, who sprinkles a layer of bleep-strewn electronic drift over Lu’s R&B-rich baroque pop.

Since her 2016 debut EP Church, Kelsey Lu has infused her music with a deep sense of spirituality. This can be heard on Pushing Against the Wind, a minor-key folk reverie that was written after an ayahuasca ceremony. Meanwhile, Lu’s atmospheric cover of 10cc’s I’m Not In Love and the 80s pomp of Poor Fake suggest an older soul at play.

Lu’s confessional outlook and openness to genre-blending aligns Blood with the fluidity of the digital era. But there’s also a classic quality to what she is doing. Hers is a timeless soul that resonates beautifully with the cello’s age-worn timbre, one that won’t ever go out of fashion.