On hearing the music from inimitable singer-songwriter LP’s album Forever For Now, a friend of hers — also a singer-songwriter — sent her a note summarizing her reaction.
“She said, ‘This record is triumphant,’” LP says. “Then she wrote, again, in all capitals, ‘TRIUMPHANT!’ "I was really touched to hear it described that way. Sometimes you get worried when you have an album that's finished and you're showing it to your friends to see what they're first reaction is, especially a songwriter friend,” she says with a laugh. In a way, she agrees. “Every song goes for it for sure. I guess that’s just kind of my style.”
Anyone who’s ever seen LP live, or watched the much-viewed viral videos of her effervescent performances on which she accompanies herself on rocking ukulele, knows that’s completely how she is, whether she’s performing at L.A. clubs filled with rabid fans or making a breakthrough, buzz-building appearance at the Austin City Limits Festival.
It’s what brought her a place on Esquire’s rising-stars roster, led Vogue to gush about her “penetrating voice” and “swagger,” and what has unleashed a wave of glowing praise from Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, USA Today, Billboard and many others. It also spurred famed instrument maker Martin to tap LP as a future force to be reckoned with, honoring her as both its first female Ambassador and first ever to be associated with ukulele. At the core of all this is LP’s rich, engaging world of art, emotion, spirit, and….music.
LP’s distinctive talent, both as a writer and performer, are brought to the fore on her debut album Forever For Now, which was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer and Warner Bros. Records chairman Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Dave Matthews Band). Enlisting her favorite collaborators, including Isa Summers (Florence and the Machine), PJ Bianco, Billy Steinberg and Josh Alexander, she has struck an inspirational tone. Songs like “Heavenly Light,” “Tokyo Sunrise,” and “Into the Wild” (also heard in the CitiBank TV commercial) are brightly hopeful — the work of an artist always expanding, always digging deeper.
LP’s passion for music began in New York where she was born. Despite being raised in a “family where I was encouraged to pursue a career in law or medicine,” her mom loved to sing, and music became a constant presence and pursuit as she grew up. LP began taking inspiration from a range of artists, Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell, Robert Plant, and Jim Morrison, to name a few — the voices, the wordplay, the swagger all stood out for her.
Like many before her, LP has been down the major-label road, having previously signed deals that did not fit, leading her to believe that an artist’s career may not be in the cards. During those years, LP fell into writing for other artists, penning such hits as Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That)” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful People.” However, the artist world came calling again in late 2011 after LP began drawing crowds to what she describes as “fun, low-key” appearances at local L.A. clubs such as Bardot and Sayers.
In 2012, LP released the dynamic Live at EastWest Studios EP on Warner Bros Records, showcasing the vocal power and prowess she’d earned as a performer from earlier times barnstorming the country — “250 shows a year, driving around the country in a tiny van.” That’s the standard she and Cavallo took to the studio. Cavallo’s goal with the live EP was to show that LP was not a studio invention but the real deal. The same approach was used when recording Forever For Now, slated for release in May 2014.
“Rob wanted to bring out my voice,” she says. “He was adamant that it was the key instrument and that it should be the main vehicle driving the entire record.”
To showcase that voice, Cavallo enlisted a variety of approaches and creative combinations to take LP on a musical and emotional journey, from the opening burst of “Heavenly Light” to the more subdued denouement of “Forever For Now” (co-produced by Isa Summers). As the album came together it led LP to places she didn’t know it would take her. “There are certain songs that changed the landscape of this album for me,” she says.
“One Last Mistake” is one of the songs that broadened the scope of where the album could go. Working with Kid Harpoon brought out a different sound, particularly with the harmonies. Another is “Night Like This,” a collaboration with Mike del Rio and Nate Campany, which almost didn’t make the album. “A few major artists wanted to sing that track,” LP says. The song’s laid-back feel and sweet tone, mixed with the rhythmic stomp of the kick-drum, feel natural nestled within the whole of the record.
The LP-Cavallo partnership opened the music up to new possibilities. Foremost is the orchestral elements that grace songs like “Tokyo Sunrise,” which, like “Into The Wild,” was co-written and co-produced by PJ Bianco. That orchestra, complemented by the fragile harp-like sounds of a twelve-string guitar, provide the vivid backdrop for the song’s layered, powerful vocals.
“I always knew with ‘Tokyo Sunrise,’ from the moment it came together, that it would be the artistic pinnacle of the album,” LP says. “The emotional content behind that song runs very deep for me and brings me there every time I sing it.”
Though each song on the album is unique, overall, all 12 feel like they belong in the same family. It sounds like a cohesive piece of work; perhaps even a triumphant piece of work. “TRIUMPHANT!” LP says with a wink.