Serving as a preview for the forthcoming LP Roma, Lupa is an EP self-written and recorded at home by James Vella. It takes heavy inspiration from the story of Romulus and Remus, a myth about the founding of Rome, which features feral children and the murder of one brother by another. On the EP, Vella manages to marry heavy, not-good-for-a-bedtime-story content to soft composition and deep lyricisms, creating something that is not a cheesy retelling of a gruesome story but an exploration of beauty, love, and the art of creation.
Featuring a gigantic list of instruments, the EP is a set of four carefully constructed tracks that can please even the most delicate of ears in true lullaby fashion, but keep the listener engaged to the dark matter being presented. “The Sparrow In The Lemon Tree” opens it all up with banjo and metallophone canoodling; classical strings and booming distortion are suspended within. The dreamy synths of “Animal Temple” follow. “Holy Comet Lands” and “Kora Heart” have similar layouts, both starting with peaceful guitar and end with all-consuming distorted synth chords.
Lupa’s overall defining characteristic is how the instruments are played and interact with each other. The fingerpicking used for the banjo can’t be heard on any country record, and nowhere else can electronic sounds weave so smoothly with instruments that predate the light bulb.
As a solo project, A Lily sets the bar high for what one person (with occasional help from friends) should be able to achieve in their bedroom. This record is a bridge that spans genres and ideas alike, combining the mythological with the cutting edge. A close listen reveals just how many discreet layers there are in each track, and the attention needed for such a production is heavy enough to be almost palpable.