V.C.R. / THE CHRONICLES OF A CATERPILLAR: THE EGG / LEAVING RECORDS – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

If you’re searching for some superbly crafted leftfield soul, for something that rocks to its own swivel-hipped idiosyncratic beat, blissfully unaware and uncaring of what anyone else is up to, then V.C.R. could be just what you’re after.

Veronica Camille Ratliff is an LA-based musician, singer and writer, whose debut album sits perfectly ensconced as a living, breathing work of soulart: it’s full of flavour, of creativity on its own terms, of a joie de vivre that shines through each and every track.

It’s fantastical, phantasmagorical: a rendering of experience that updates William Blake via the Brand Nubians – coming up in the process with a sure-fire party-starter for those who like to engage their brains as well as their feet. It’s a damn fine first outing, make no mistake. No doubt.

Spoken word interludes anchor the album: ‘we need to make a deep incision’, we’re told on opener, Reset, as we gather our thoughts and get ready for the journey. Lothlorien is a teetering, tweetering bass-blown forensic examination of the V.C.R. psyche: knocked down, blocked down but unwilling to play dead – the sound of redemption, of art as saviour. Powerful, perfectly formed: beautiful.

Minnie Lives is a key track here: atmospheric as hell, strings backing the vocal soundbeds, warm and inviting – reaching for the stars. ‘Many lives I live with you my love…’ runs the refrain. The multiplicity of life and love echoed back to us – there’s no easy reductionism here – V.C.R. contains multitudes. A pean to a lost love, heartache reconfigured as creativity. It`s one of the best tracks that you’ll hear this year. Collapsing finally into the darkness, ‘come closer please…close to me.’ The lord is my shepherd indeed.

TRiP bounces straight back up from the depths: ‘reality’s leaving I’m flying I’m flying away’ – a shot of pure joy unconfined as the earth falls away and the spirit flies free. This is what music can do, this is what love sounds like: ‘it feels so unreal…got me floating’, as V.C.R. hymns the heavenly harmony of spiritual union. It`s another absolute banger for sure.

Imagine a world where all albums presented us with such deep delights: where music is felt as deeply as the mythical first kiss, where art is given the reverence it deserves, where hatred and bigotry no longer roam. Everyday (Sunshine) drops the beats for just such confirmation: V.C.R. is calling to the lovers and side-lining the fighters: if you love music, if you long for a world free of the shit we are constantly force-fed, if you stand with the angels, well, The Chronicles of a Caterpillar is going to be ticking all your boxes.

This is simply an exceptional offering from an artist clearly destined for something BIG: get in at the start and enjoy the ride – there’s wisdom and wit in these grooves. V.C.R. got it going on. Wonderful, way out, and way back in again: a future classic right here, right now.

V.C.R.`s The Chronicles of a Caterpillar: The Egg is out now, on Leaving Records. 

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