Review: Lotte Kestner- Until EP

It’s only been two months since singer- songwriter Anna-Lynne Williams dropped The Bluebird of Happiness, the third full-length LP she’s put out under the Lotte Kestner moniker. Believe it or not, Williams is back with a self-released companion EP, Until, a collection of eight songs—some of which are outtakes from the Bluebird sessions, along with experiments, old songs that were written and just newly recorded, or songs that were intended for her old band Trespassers William.

The first two songs on Until are in the same vein as “Eggshells,” the dark, synth-heavy track from Bluebird. The EP opens with “Confession,” a track that begins with an interesting, phone dial pad-esq keyboard riff, before somberly plucked acoustic guitar strings clear the way. The second song, “Flap,” features some dope beats—uncharacteristic of Williams’s canon thus far—and is propelled forward by some very spacey, hypnotic synth tones.

The EP’s standout track comes third—“Bell Under Water” is a moody and restrained meditation, anchored down by Williams’s wordless singing that serves as an ethereal refrain. The second half of Until finds Williams shedding the experimentation of the first few tracks, and heads back into the sparse, downcast acoustic guitar songs that she is excellent crafting. The closing track, “To Stand In” is a perfect example of that, while the song prior to that, “Bright to be True,” is one of the only songs to feature more instrumentation, courtesy of her former Trespassers band mates.

There’s always a slight risk in releasing a second set of material shortly after you’ve already put out an album. If this were a release by a lesser artist, it could come off as being an “odds and ends” collection. However, due to Williams’s strength as a songwriter, Until is very capable of standing on its own. Even though these tracks are pulled from different recording sessions and different times, they all sound very natural when you listen from start to finish. The sequencing of the songs also helps; Until flows seamlessly from the first half into the second. 

In the review of Until written by the folks at The Big Takeover, it’s mentioned that this EP is slightly “darker” than Bluebird. After letting that idea sink in for a minute, I would agree. Until has a heavier weight to much of the material. Also, the artwork for each is staggeringly different. Bluebird features a haunting photograph from Desiree Doldron—the composition and subject matter give off an almost baroque-era feeling. While Until’s cover features the black and white image of a jelly fish, and all of the text is in a large, heavy, all caps font—black text on an even blacker background.

If you slept on The Bluebird of Happiness, shame on you—it’s a remarkable album. So you should do yourself a big favor and peep that. And when you’ve finished, turn your attention to Until. Playing them back-to-back showcases the how diverse yet cohesive the songs of Anna-Lynne Williams are.