VIVE LA ROSE – For She Who Hangs The Moon (Gestation Records, GEST01)

For She Who Hangs The MoonLondon-based Scot David Luximon-Herbert has been making music in various guises over many years, finally emerging as Vive La Rose in 2014 with the EP, Don’t Move, Don’t Speak. For Vive La Rose’s debut album, For She Who Hangs The Moon, he has crafted a lush, piano-driven Americana-washed soundscape about “figuring out your little corner of the world”.

Opening song, ‘Night Terrors’, unpicks the anxieties of the creative process and features one tiny, stomach-dropping moment where the instrumentation cuts out, leaving his whispering husky growl flailing momentarily, like the cartoon character who suddenly realises he’s running on thin air. Generally, though, like all the songs here, there’s a gentle air of reassurance and positivity.

The bright, tinkling ‘Rio Grande’ contemplates the bittersweet conflict of a couple torn between the demands of home and dreams of travel. Looking further outwards, Colin Elliot & The Up North Orchestra’s lyrical strings adorn Kennedy’s famous moon mission speech in ‘Before We Lose The Light’ as it builds in grandiosity over a ‘70s-sounding chorus. Its abrupt conclusion only throws the Spanish-tinged guitar intro of ‘Of A Fire On The Moon’ into full relief, another momentous song whose moody electric guitar climax falls away with the tentatively hopeful lyric, “as long as I can hold here”.

Nicky Francis’s briskly shuffling brush drum introduces ‘Interior Rules’ which seems to be about working out what really matters, whilst ‘Given Time’ features both Mark Neary’s pedal steel and some gorgeously poignant brass from Terry Edwards.

Time looms over ‘The Watchmaker’ (mortality and achievement), “I’m a watchmaker down inside and I need more time” and ‘Schiehallion’ (shifting perspectives) with its immortal line, “I’m swinging from the family tree”. Rod Sparks’ Hammond embellishes both this and ‘Sirocco’, a song with melodic traces of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, before the gently waltzing guitar of ‘My Shadow’ brings the album to a close.

There’s a thoughtfulness in the instrumentation and a gentle optimism that infuses this whole project, which is tenderly dedicated to his wife. Luximon-Herbert’s stated aim was to make the album that he wanted to, despite lacking a big budget. He’s certainly done a fine job of delivering a plush, involved album that radiates compassion and warmth.

Su O’Brien

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