Lydia Ainsworth – Phantom Forest (Album Review)

Creating a certain feeling with music is something special, and usually what initially catches a listener’s ear. Combine that with immaculate story-telling and you have Lydia Ainsworth, an iconic force who returns with her third album, Phantom Forest, on Friday, May 10th, 2019 via Zombie Cat Records.

Out of Canada, music has been in Ainsworth’s blood all her life, learning cello at age 10. She is the product of various schoolings and a completed Bachelor’s degree in music composition. Her music career then continued at NYU, where she completed a Masters Degree in film scoring composition. From there, she would earn herself a Juno-nomination for her 2014 debut, Right From Real, and again for her 2017 follow-up, Darling of the Afterglow.

With her knowledge and talent combined, Ainsworth now put together another group of tales following relocating to Los Angeles. Complete with 9 songs, Phantom Forest is a self-produced journey where Ainsworth sings from three different perspectives; herself, Mother Nature, and Greek Chorus. An interesting concept, in the opening track, “Diamonds Cutting Diamonds,” she explains, “The Greek Chorus sets the scene, narrating and offering direction on how to enter Phantom Forest. It’s my hope that the listener will imagine the narration to be directed to them as well, as they begin the journey of the album.” That in mind, the song is funky and defiant, laced with many elements that will keep your interest. 

There are also a few tracks that hold an extraterrestrial atmosphere, holding suspense in line with the record’s theme. For example, the bass heavy “Tell Me I Exist” is serene with elements of strings and synth, yet suspicious with slow drums, as Ainsworth yearns for validation. Calm and collected “Give It Back To You” arrives gently into the extraterrestrial theme with light added synths and implemented vocals. This is where Ainsworth focuses on providing hope for the future and giving back to Mother Earth.

Beyond the unique concept, the singer-songwriter approaches different angles with Phantom Forest musically, adding more Pop elements than ever before. This is evident with “Can You Find Her Place,” which holds as a fun, lively Dance vibe from the view of Greek Chorus. In contrast, “Edge Of The Throne” maintains an intense feeling with synth reverb, among other electronic sounds and harp. Doing a beautiful job building suspense, it is however a little hard to detect which point of view Ainsworth wrote it from, but that just adds to the intrigue. 

Interestingly enough, the record closes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Green Is The Color.” A wonderful rendition, Ainsworth brings a mystical face to the track with sharp electronic elements that come in waves, along with acoustic strikes. Among this cover and many other compositions on the album, Lydia Ainsworth sticks with what she knows best. Her elaborate storytelling blended with the variety of music combine for a refreshing and diverse album. Curious, alluring, and compelling, Cryptic Rock gives Phantom Forest 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Phantom Forest:

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