Now I wouldn’t normally give much time to someone who’d sung and played bass for the likes of Tricky, A-Ha and I Blame Coco and others. But Laura Kidd, a.k.a. She Makes War, is a little different. She’s an Amazonian, independent spirit in the lineage of, though not necessarily the sound of, Bikini Kill, the Slits and PJ Harvey.
Mostly it’s just her and her confessional tales, looping her voice and perhaps adding ukulele, a smidge of keyboards or autoharp, as on ‘Disarm’, to add textures. But she’s also joined by friends including Chris T-T on piano, on the standout gothic indiepop of ‘In This Boat’ while ‘Magpie Heart’ is midnight-black but outrageously catchy Curve-like shoegaze with a stratospheric chorus. And she makes imaginative use of field recordings from of a Japanese mountaintop and a South London rainstorm to bookend the album. This is long way from backing Tricky.
Her own blog makes clear that she’s suffered from being a woman in the still macho world of music but Little Battles is a powerful Riot Grrl riposte. She strikes a fine balance between polished pop and tougher songwriting, demonstrated by the sobering ‘May Our Daughters Return Home’, about female abduction and murder in Mexico. She’s a great example of DIY music: beholden to no record company and funding the album through pledges, she’s made an album where the musical statement and the artistic vision are equally admirable.