Lanu is one of the alter egos of Aussie guitarist Lance Ferguson. He is, of course, a mainstay of the Bamboos – a band who, in recent years, have crafted some proper, authentic, organic soul and funk. Working under an alias though allows artists to work on projects that are different to what is usually expected of them and here Lance/Lanu offers a soundscape that is many miles away from the sound of the Bamboos.
The predominant flavour (but by no means the only flavour) of ‘Her 12 Faces’ is 60s style country/folk rock and to help him achieve that sound he works with vocalist Megan Washington – who he first used as the voice on the Bamboos’ version of the Kings Of Leon’s ‘King Of The Rodeo’. Here Ferguson and Washington collaborate on five songs and the quintet are all gentle, sweet and catchy – jangling guitars from him and beguiling, whimsical vocals from her – kind of the Searchers meet Francoise Hardy. The opener, ‘Beautiful Trash’ is particularly strong while ‘Hold Me Down’ is a lovely pastiche of 60s naive, femme pop.
But there’s lots more flavours on the set. ‘der Hotel Blume’ is a guitar-led instrumental as is ‘Portrait In 50 Hz’, though that one has a whiff of Cafe Del Mar about it – but then so does ‘Jean Paul’ and though ‘The Coral Route’ starts in that vein it soon goes into Tahitian, palm-lined beach mode – one of a number of real surprises on the set. Another is the unexpected but welcome jazzy feel of the LP’s title cut. But the album’s biggest surprise is a cover version of Roxy Music’s ‘More Than This’ which boasts a French language vocal from a beach busker called Ced Le Meledo and like the whole album it possesses an innocent charm. “Beguiling” is an adjective we’ve used earlier… and, in truth, it does accurately sum up the whole of ‘Her 12 Faces’. This isn’t the soul or funk of the Bamboos (though ‘1988’ does have some funky beats); this music is hard to label … but it is worth investigating.