Lou Hayter – Private Sunshine
London-born musician and DJ Lou Hayter has stepped out from behind the keys and decks with the release of her first solo album, Private Sunshine. After a long career touring and recording with the acclaimed New Young Pony Club and putting on club nights for highfalutin fashion brands, the sultry brunette has created an auditory world of her own, albeit chock full of hat tips to former pop greats.
The record is intelligent, with subtle chord progressions, silky harmonies and well thought-out lyrics. Her spot-on cover of Steely Dan’s Time out of Mind will be a relief to all those who bemoan the musicality of days gone by. This classy and respectful take on the lesser-known track boasts a cracking solo by Gorillaz guitarist Jeff Wooton, hinting at the extent of Hayter’s contact book over decades in the industry.
The undeniably old-school Telephone sets the head bobbing with its solid bass groove, funky guitar, and even a tasteful sax solo. The only hint of modernity stems from tinkly synths fluttering from ear to ear. My Baby Just Cares for Me is a cheeky, beautifully arranged synth-pop romp in the spirit of Tom Tom Club, with remarkably catchy lyrics: “You’re speaking English, but your kiss is French,” she sings with a swagger. No similarity to Nina Simone outside of the title, however.
The low-key party mood drops with What’s a Girl to Do?, a wistful plea from a jilted lover to be left alone in her grief (“Said you’ve got a new girlfriend. And if it’s all the same, can you stop telling me we’re friends?”). Rich, dissonant harmonies adorn the catchy hook, and a fun synth solo drops in at just the right moment.
Anybody who lived their formative adult years in London will relate to This City. Despite being a love song, it feels more like an ode to the idiosyncrasies of young life in the capital.
Some songs drift into filler territory, such as the bright and poppy Still Dreaming. Aside from its heartfelt lyrics, it fails to create much interest as a mish-mash of 80s influences struggle with modern club beats with little dynamic variety.
The album closes on a delicious blast from the past, Pinball, which could easily have been written in 1977. Set in the rainy streets of London, it coaxes the listener into Hayter’s creative world as she draws inspiration from other people’s lives, while reflecting on her own.
Private Sunshine spells maturity, class and good taste, with a heaping dose of nostalgia. It has the kind of tracks one might Shazam while vintage clothes shopping in East London.
Private Sunshine is released on 28th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Lou Hayter’s website here.
Watch the video for the single My Baby Just Cares for Me here: