This Paradise, 2016 (Lost & Lonesome)
"Aspen is an icy, crystallised piece of chamber folk; delicate and piercing as a stalactite. The focal point of Roleff’s music is, of course, her voice: this quavering, rather deep husk, that has the blunt European tongue of singers like Nico and Sibylle Baier" - Nick Stillman, Happy.com
"This Paradise is shaping up to be one of 2016’s most stark but beautiful records" - Nicholas Kennedy, Who The Hell
"Roleff produces folk music that has nothing to do with the ‘it’s acoustic so it must be folk’ likes of the beard-strokers by numbers, but instead comparisons could be drawn with the likes of Joanna Newsom, Nick Drake and Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins. This is one of the best things I have heard this year" - 17 Seconds (Scotland)
"Disarming, melancholic, spacious atmosphere. It's the stuff that late nights alone were made for" - Just Music That I Like (UK)
"Distinctly her own artist, she fits neatly into the folk genre along with a great number of peers, however she doesn't play the same game as them. Like Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell before her, Roleff has definitive ambitions for her music and she remains stoically faithful to them. She sings with a haunting, intimate voice — so close and quiet that you'd swear she was whispering in your ear" ★★★★ - Lukas Murphy, The Music
"...the ease with which Lucy Roleff soars through her songs, the stable structure of her composition is a vehicle for her angel like ethereal rendition" - Das Klienicum (Germany)
"'Every Time' highlights the intimate atmosphere of composition and the solemnity of her music" - So What Musica (Italy)
"A voice that comes from far away in space and time... light years away from any fleeting modern trend... which slowly open up, revealing ancient colours and existing fragrances" - Music Won't Save You (Italy)
"There is a timeless quality to the music of Lucy Roleff. Relishing the time-honoured tropes of contemporary folk music, Lucy’s music wouldn’t sound out of place if it had been released at any time over the past 60 years. Her delicate melodies sit atop elegantly restrained accompaniment, allowing the songs to carve their own path, like water gradually eroding jagged rock into polished smooth surfaces." - Greg Stone, Who The Hell
"Even when Roleff isn’t revelling in the past, whether true or not; she’s playing out constructed situations to exorcise fears from all corners of life – motherhood, abandonment – hallmarks of someone that is still young, but surrounded by signs of ageing and adulthood regardless. Architecturally, the album stands as a structure that’s seemingly formless, yet also refined in the way it moves from one song to the next like an M.C. Escher painting – a beautiful home in which you’ll walk through a door expecting a living room with a softly crackling fireplace, but instead finding yourself among trees, fog, or a city square." - Nicholas Kennedy, Collapse Board
Interview with Bobby Townsend, Something You Said
“Described as a "dark" Joni Mitchell, the Melbourne-based artist combines melancholic harmonies with ethereal arrangements to produce a sound that is both haunting and emotionally captivating” - ★★★★ Tianna Nadalin, The Herald Sun
“Roleff's brooding voice drives dark track Bodies with the air of a commanding, old-world priestess” - ★★★★ Stephanie Tell, The Music
“Lucy Roleff delivers something a little different than what her classical training in flute, piano and opera might suggest. A beautifully restrained and delicate affair on the EP Longbows” - Robbie Buck, The Inside Sleeve. Radio National
”Roleff has a bewitching debut EP in Longbows... It seems to stand outside of any one era, to which Roleff perhaps owes her classical training. Vocally she’s been compared to Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins as well as Bridget St. John – although we hear Movietone ourselves” - Mess+Noise
“If you dig Tara Jane O'Neil or Marissa Nadler, then Melbourne has a gem in the waiting for you” - Adam Yee, Mobile Industries
“Lucy’s voice is just stunning – I really love what she’s been doing with Alex as Magic Hands, but I’m utterly spellbound by some of what she’s put out just under her own name. I love that she seems to be channeling a kind of folk music that has nothing to do with banjos or mandolins or beards or Mumfords – an idea of folk music that is more universal, that kind of story- telling that existed before popular music, before rock, blues, country etc. Timeless music.” - Tim Shiel, Double J
”Lucy is a multi-talent - a great singer and songwriter, possessed with a contralto voice that sounds like she’s channeling something ancient and deep. Lucy is mesmerising and her songs are thoroughly captivating” - Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star)
”The sparkling music of Lucy Roleff, who plays fractured compositions interspersed with flourishes of genuine warmth. Gorgeous Stuff.” - Barry Cliffe, Blitzgigs.de
”If you really want that lyrical folk to go down smooth you're going to want a touch of poetry to the lyrics, a lethargic wistfulness to the tone and orchestral instrumentation flying distantly around a voice like birds. This is how it is with Lucy Roleff and her EP Longbows” - The Thousands
”'Volkshaus' is really, really beautiful. I love how timeless it is. It could be a lost relic from some past time” - Jaye Kranz, Brighter Later
”Lucy’s an accomplished musician trained in opera, piano, and flute. She’s taken those classical influences and used them to inform something much more modern in her single. It’s simply stunning, unhurried with exquisitely lush instrumentation” - Sounds of Oz.com
”Achingly haunting and deeply poetic, Roleff’s music captures the nostalgia of the troubadour, along with lyrical art song” - Roni Shewan, Shiver Canyon
”What a voice!” - Paul Butler, 3MBS Radio
This atmospheric, emotive folk offering has a distinctive fairytale quality, notably through its use of flute and simple string elements. These stripped-back compositions create a starkly haunting tone. Roleff's brooding voice drives dark track Bodies with the air of a commanding, old-world priestess. Her expressive vocals have a certain mysterious charm, exacerbated in this track by a touch of huskiness. Though commendable for its experimental use of unmelodious instrumentation, the engrossing, stormy-weather feel of this EP will be best suited to those with particularly moody dispositions - ★★★★ Stephanie Tell, The Music
Classical compositions meet lyrically driven folk on Lucy Roleff's debut EP, Longbows. Produced by multi-instrumentalist Tony Dupé - who has also worked with Holly Throsby and Jack Ladder - Longbows is a stunning display of technical skill and musical finesse.
Described as a "dark" Joni Mitchell, the Melbourne-based artist combines melancholic harmonies with ethereal arrangements to produce a sound that is both haunting and emotionally captivating.
The EP's first single Volkshaus features instrumentation that is as delicate as Lucy's vocals are rich. Violins dance on an elusive string while acoustic guitar picking and cello weave their way into the musical tapestry.
Lucy's beautiful vocals shine on In the Afternoon, and on title track, Longbows, her master of her craft is effortlessly showcased.
Longbows is a superb debut release and a hint at the bright future that lies ahead for this talented singer-songwriter - ★★★★ Tianna Nadalin, The Herald Sun
Listening to Australian artist Lucy Roleff’s debut EP ‘Longbows’ evokes a host of images. There’s a powerful dramatic quality that would fit perfectly behind a mysterious gothic drama or add a haunting quality to impeccable film noir. That’s not to say this is dark music, it’s just music with presence and theatrical overtones that bring on reminiscences of striking visuals and takes you places that both haunt and intrigue.
Lucy has a voice that embraces the songs and gives them life – something few artists can do. Her lyrical storytelling is faintly reminiscent of a Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre – a feeling of intense examination, brooding distance and reflective, sometimes pensive concentration. Through ‘Longbows’ Lucy offers a richness of emotions mixed with eerie soundscapes and quiet solitude. There are acute observations and pensive reflection. There’s a fragile informality, private feelings and tender metaphors.
Perhaps not instantly accessible and needing dedication to appreciate - this is music that repays your attention. Produced by multi-instrumentalist Tony Dupé, ‘Longbows delivers five songs written when Lucy spent a winter in Berlin. Perhaps that’s where the feeling of ‘distance’ comes from – when you get a chance listen to tracks Volkhaus, Bodies and Mount Honey and see if you agree - Tim Carroll, Folkwords.com
The five songs on the EP are slow and serious and in both respects I am being complimentary. For the former attribute, there are those who might hear these and wish for something more upbeat. If this were a full album I'd be agreeing, but in establishing a style/mood across these few I think the pace makes a valid statement where the focus is on Roleff's fulsome vocal - at times genuinely like Joni Mitchell at her lower register [in her early singing - not the cigarette-affected lost octave of her current mature voice] - as well as the injections/snatches of strings and clarinet: plucked, briefly puffed, clawed, apart from the more sustained strains [a relative term] of the light orchestration on opener Volkshaus.
It really is a beautiful voice that is held in similar check to the instrumentation so I look forward to hearing her expand on this in the future. There are also delicate harmonies at work, for example in the penultimate song on the EP, In The Afternoon. For the latter attribute I suppose one could see/hear these as rather dour, but again I like what I have called the 'seriousness' of that focus, a lyrical storytelling that is linguistically rich and at times challenging. There is a brooding marriage of such lyricism and musical mood in fine opener Volkhaus, already mentioned,
It will seem faint praise, but there is none of the current fashionable female vocal affectations in Roleff's singing, and for those who understand my oft-stated disdain for this contemporary nonsense, you'll appreciate the genuine accolade in acknowledging its absence - Mike Ferguson, Some Diurnal Aural Awe
Live show w/ Rough River and Holy Lotus
”I was first introduced to Lucy when we played a show together: me as Leafy Suburbs and her as one half of electronic art-pop duo MAGIC HANDS. Magic Hands were one of the best things I’d yet heard in Melbourne; her solo work is something vastly different, but that description still stands.
Alone, Roleff makes music that is somber, reflective, deep and in motion – like a river at night. Before you’ve unpicked even a line of her intricately articulated lyrics, which are intoned with a warm and authoritative resonance reminiscent of Joni Mitchell or Sibylle Baier, the whole thing exudes meaning and magnitude. At the same time, the songs aren’t self-important; brimming with complexity, deftly-delivered guitar pirouettes and astral vocal projections, they nevertheless drift in and out with the elemental nonchalance of a sea breeze. Fans of intelligent folk music, particularly the more ambitious outings of the ‘60s and ‘70s, will find a lot to love in Roleff’s live show. And fiends for lush, unconventional orchestration (a la Pallett, Newsom, Holter, St Vincent) will happily get lost in her recorded material. The songs Roleff plays tonight are the sorts of things I spend hours searching for amid mounds of folksy mediocrity online; and here they are, gleaming as gemstones, readily, in the mostly-empty Grace Darling upstairs.” - Lyndon Blue, Cool Perth Nights
Longbows EP launch at The Grace Darling
”The intertwined smell of Collingwood and the rolling hills in a faraway land seemed to drift through the doors at the same time as Lucy Roleff began to sing. Maybe that was the feeling I gathered in my half-comatose state, which is no slight on Lucy; I was simply extremely fatigued from a few long days interstate. However, despite this and the occasional sound malfunction, Roleff’s vocals evoked unavoidable comparisons with the great Joni Mitchell.
Such a comparison is a constant when a young folk singer emerges on the scene. Nonetheless, judging on Roleff’s evocative lyrics that are grounded in a rich and full emotional understanding beyond her years, while at the same time expressing a general admiration for the natural elements, they are deserved.
Throughout her debut EP Longbows, Roleff displays a penchant for haunting melodies, particularly exhibited in the track “Bodies” in which the ambiguity of the lyrics forces the listener to consider their meaning.
As I reflect on the lyrics, “Now the ceiling is warped and cracked/bed is splinters and some thumbtacks/and I’ve hardly cause to call/when your foot is in the door”, I start to associate the instrumental accompaniment with the landscape of an isolated trip through an ever-expanding desert in the Wild West. One of the strengths (and perhaps weaknesses) of her music is the consistent ambiguity of the setting in which they take place.
The entire set fills me with a melancholy uncertainty. The Grace Darling atmosphere warms me; however, Roleff strikes a chord with her audience, judging on the delicate silence that inhabits the floor throughout the set. People sit and watch this young woman and you can’t help but empathise with her hopes and fears during her beautifully crafted melodies.
Roleff notes that she is extremely nervous, but apart from a few technical issues and a shaky hand on her guitar, it is hardly noticeable. The able accompaniment from her backing guitarist who learnt every note on the day of the launch and her friend and clarinet player Rosalind Hall add further depth to the murky tones of Roleff. She plays the entire EP through and each song feels connected in such a way that a Laura Marling record would.
While “In The Afternoon” is a breezy trip to ‘father’s porch’, “Volkshaus” feels like a tangled web of intrigue where Roleff wonders what “a diamond weighs nestled in a pocket of earth”. Throughout the set, Roleff opens a new window of her young life to the audience; such is the delicacy of her delivery. Her music is deeply poetic and although her vulnerability is clearly expressed in her lyrics, she doesn’t let it become the centrepiece of her music.
Roleff’s song writing is fiercely intelligent and her delivery is entrancing without being overdone in the midst of a relatively small audience. Notwithstanding that I am a mere reviewer, I still believe that Roleff can further extend her repertoire by creating music that transcends a very personal story and becomes one that is deeply relatable for a larger audience.
However, her EP is an experience that I would thoroughly recommend just as I would recommend witnessing this fine young singer/songwriter live, perhaps in a better condition than I was at the time of viewing. Either way, this young woman has a wonderful future.” - William Balme