Louise Le Hir grows up in public
Louise Le Hir has been a remarkable presence in Tucson’s youth music renaissance of the last several years, most notably with her shoegaze-y trio Liila, which has been inactive for the past year. While Le Hir has been at the helm of always intriguing sounds during this time, the imminent release of her first solo album shows her to be among the first of Tucson’s current underground scene to graduate past the influences of 1960s psych and garage, ‘70s krautrock and ‘90s shoegaze into an astonishingly nuanced and mature work based on country-rock and old French pop.
The decades of reference may be the same, but the substance belongs only to Le Hir.
“Over the summer [of 2014] I started writing the songs,” that would end up on the record, Le Hir said.
The outpouring of material followed a breakup with longterm musical and personal partner Connor Gallaher, though the two remain amicable enough for him to play on parts of Le Hir’s record. That fall, she started recording them at Midtown Island Studios with engineer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Rendon, also known for his work with the Resonars and others.
“A two song demo turned into an album,” she said.
The sessions lasted over several months and included a variety of local musicians, like Lana Rebel of Hermanitos, Jeff Lownsbury of the Night Collectors and Ryan Chavira of Prom Body, adding tracks to the foundation built by Le Hir and Rendon.
“I wanted to tell stories,” she said.
One of these stories, set to an indelible backbeat and punctuated by strands and shards of unearthly textures, is “Cosmic Love Song #23,” which sounds like an instant classic, with Le Hir’s hugely emotive vocal hovering over the track, agelessly. I’m not the first listener to be moved by the song; KXCI played this deathless track as far to death as possible, and then CMJ picked up on it on its Chart Discovery column.
Now that recording is finished, Le Hir’s been playing live with several different players, leading up to her release show on Saturday.
While the band is in constant flux, Le Hir’s primary musical sidekick these days is 20-year-old guitarist Annie Dolan, who is virtuostic without being ostentatious, making her the perfect foil for Le Hir. The two met at the University of Arizona in a recording class a year ago and have been playing together since. While Dolan doesn’t play on the album, her guitar playing and star powered charisma give the music some added electricity.
What’s next? “I want to ride this record as far as possible,” Le Hir said, referring to the attention she’s already garnered even before her album’s first issue. “And I have enough new songs for another record.”