Album Review: She Makes War – “Brace For Impact”
She Makes War is the solo project of Bristol multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd who Wildhearts fans may remember supporting Ginger on some of his solo dates earlier this year. Kidd has also collaborated with the Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly and the Levellers’ Mark Chadwick among others in recent years and with “Brace For Impact”, her fourth album, becoming her first to break into the charts, the world appears to be sitting up and taking notice of her. On this evidence, deservedly so.
In terms of music style, She Makes War are definitely heavily rooted into the early 90s and you’ll hear echoes of the more thoughtful end of the early 90s wave of female-fronted grunge bands (there’s definitely a strong echo of the aforementioned Throwing Muses in here, likewise the Breeders and Belly) with the doomy yet thoughtful lyrics and discordant guitars. While “Undone” and “Dear Heart” take a look at dealing with personal demons and “Then The Quiet Came” is a slow and bitter breakup lament, Kidd isn’t afraid to confront political issues as demonstrated on the anti-mob mentality plea of opener “Devastate Me”. In this respect, you could almost see Kidd as a kindred spirit to Frank Turner and Louise Distras, fearlessly mixing the political and personal to good effect. Likewise, the style of music veers from the spiky Nirvana style guitars on “Weary Bird” to the dreamy psychedelia of “Let Me Down” and “Fortify” and the sparse acoustic and cello-led closer “Miles Away”.
It’s this variety that’s “Brace For Impact”‘s main strong point and makes it such an engaging listen. Kidd takes several different styles and lyrical themes, but binds them together well to make a supremely listenable piece of work, with every song clearly having come from the heart and being built from bitter experience. In an age where clueless vacant-eyed cash cow clone-rockers like Greta Van Fleet et al who wouldn’t know an original idea if it whacked them across their faces with a Stratocaster are being shoved down peoples’ throats, we arguably need good honest heart-on-sleeve rock music like this more than ever. Here’s hoping that the She Makes War story is only just beginning…
"Brace For Impact" is a very varied effort with a number of styles and subjects being covered, but the key is that these songs really are truly disarming in their heart-on-sleeve honesty and that's what makes it such a likeable record. Treasure bands who've mastered the simple art of writing a good song and stamping their own personality on it like this, they're getting rarer.