Lily Desmond describes themself as a “screaming violinist” and that was more than enough to get me interested in her new EP Omen. The first of a “mythological series,” it’s Lily’s take on the Hero’s Journey, drawing from mythology and Arthurian legends, and there are plenty of twists and surprises for us across its four tracks.
By Graeme Smith
Lily is based in New York City, USA, but is originally from Los Angeles. They’re a multi-instrumentalist who, as a member of the band Sloppy Jane, has recorded with Bran Faltudo, and performed with Carli Naff and opened for Phoebe Bridgers. Omen sees Lily striking out in their own direction and we’re all richer for it.
The EP’s journey starts with Song For The Road. It’s suitably driving, opening with a bass rhythm and touches of tense strings. Lily’s vocals are instantly captivating, as is the story they tell. An innovative mix of folklore and modernity, it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before. Just as we settle in, we’re greeted by an discordant explosion of sound that will having you on the edge of your seat. It’s a strong start.
Title track Omen is disorientating, giving us the sense that this isn’t a typical tale. In fact, Lily’s take on the monomyth is that we’re getting the story of the tyrant rather than the hero. Bossfight is a slow-buring ten minute epic. Sparse, marching percussion sets the early pace before we get mournful strings, a violent cacophony, and finally an unsettling breakdown. There’s just enough time left for an Epilogue with layered vocals that act as an aural balm.
I won’t lie, Omen is not for the casual listener. Yet, those coming to it with an open mind are going to find a hidden gem from a true musical innovator. Lily’s going on tour mid-to-late September and I can imagine the live experience will be incredible based on the evidence of this EP.
Omen features Lily Desmond on song writing, vocals, violin and acoustic guitar, Sean Brennan on cello and bass, Mark Bennett on electric guitar, production and arranging, Lea Jaffe on pedal steel and, a ghost on drums. You can give it a listen below.