A sparse portrait
Lucette is back with her second album, Deluxe Hotel Room, a richly dark yet sparse indie-pop record. She departs from the success she found with the southern gothic tone of her debut Black is the Color in favor of an even more intimate sound and focusing on a more personal subject matter.
The album begins with its title track “Deluxe Hotel Room.” Lucette introduces the sounds and themes of the album immediately: it begins with a series of rich piano chords followed by her sensuous but light vocals, which epitomize the contrasts at the heart of the album. Lucette’s voice is at once full and reserved, airy and expansive. “In a deluxe hotel room/ hundred dollars to my name” is her next contradiction. The song is about loneliness and hollowness where you are supposed to feel fulfilled, and feeling small in the face of things that are big. “In my kingdom alone, remember we would say/ we never needed money/ ‘cause fortune don’t mean fame” she states.
“Out of the Rain” is an almost-sultry ballad with a cool electronic sound. Lucette’s voice shines through the sparse electronic tones. The song is anchored by a dreamy saxophone solo by Brad Walker. The song is one of the most intimate on the album, partly because most of the song, Lucette is only joined by a drum beat and a series of electronic-sounding chords, and partly because she pleas “Is there somebody out there/ to help get me out of the rain?” with such delicacy. The starkness of the electronic sounds, especially the coldness of the dream beat, amplify her feeling of loneliness.
“Full Moon Town” is a more an upbeat song with a haunting sense of nostalgia. The pulsing bass drum persists throughout the song and gives it a sense of anxiety that is amplified by her description of a town where “there’s one red light where you stop/ unless you’re in real good with the cops.”
“Fly to Heaven” is another ballad with an R&B feel. Walker’s saxophone whispers across the entire song. The refrain “Oh, if I could find a way to Heaven” suits her voice perfectly as it soars over the slow melody and minimal drum beat.
Lucette seems to have crafted pairs in her songs. “Fly to Heaven” has a similar drum beat and feel to “Out of the Rain,” but is an even more hopeful ballad. “Deluxe Hotel Room” pairs with the album’s final track “Lover Don’t Give Up on Me.” The song features Lucette’s voice over richly moving piano chords, featured only in the first and last songs on the album. Even while she pleads for more time, listeners can’t help but understand that if there was a hope of a second chance, these lyrics wouldn’t have needed to be written. “’ Cause love is like a slow burn” she sings, “But when it’s gone, there’s nothing left but searching for the light” she laments with a wisdom that belies her resignation.
In the space of nine songs, however, Lucette’s lyrical content has gone from one of frustration at shallowness to an emotional maturity that comes only with time. In this case, these tones are not contradictions, but rather enrich each other.
In Deluxe Hotel Room, Lucette meditates on loneliness with maturity. She makes the listener feel that loneliness with her voice and the limited instrumentation on the album. At the end of the album, which keeps listeners engaged with a variety of styles, she makes it feel like she is leaving with her final lyric “Lover, don’t give up on me” and fades away.