Review: Lenka

After two years, Lenka returns to Adelaide with a brand new double EP, unpacking more whimsical tunes and rhythmic piano that has delighted audiences across the globe. From being featured in television shows such as Ugly Betty to performing alongside Liam Gallagher in Australia’s Fairgrounds Festival, Lenka’s music career spans over a decade and has reached some commendable highs.

Lenka | image supplied

Much like her previous albums, Recover and Discover is a combination of covers and originals that feature Lenka’s trademark indie pop sound bursting with chirpy optimism. Her EP Discover in particular, showcases her songwriting ability to transform her personal experiences into musical therapy, even when it hasn’t always come easy for the songstress known for her sweet, whispering vocals.

Launching straight into her new Discover single, ‘What Goes Up’, at The Mill for her Adelaide Fringe show, she provides an insight into her struggle with anxiety and depression when she was unable to find inspiration and produce music during a break from her 2017 album release, ‘Attune’. Despite the less-than-cheerful premise, the song’s doo-doo-doos and repeated piano rhythms still underlines that sympathetic optimism she’s well-known for.

Lenka’s voice transforms from soft and husky to clear and resounding during her performance of ‘Blue Skies’, one of Lenka’s most-featured songs on her 2015 ‘The Bright Side’ album. Performed with no other musical instrument except her keyboard, she exhibits great control and range of her vocals, so much so, this live version may be preferable to her recorded original.

Approaching her show with casual confidence, Lenka is unphased when she forgets the lyrics to another musical favourite, ‘Everything At Once’. She carries on like a champ, showing her cheerful nature as she engages the audience with little anecdotes.

Moving onto Recover, her first ever EP to only feature covers, she details her need to explore other music during her struggle to find inspiration for songwriting. Lenka revisits ‘We Belong’ by Pat Benatar, as well as a pop cover of Otis Reading’s ‘Respect’ which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Regardless, it is encouraging to see Lenka diverge into areas she hasn’t explored before, and if anything, this double EP shows there is more to her seemingly happy-go-lucky originals. Many of the songs include themes of vulnerability, fear, and pain and healing, but true to her style, her music remains upbeat. Interspersed with ukulele strumming and keytar chords, this rhythmic beat underlines nearly every song she performs. Though it would have been nice to hear more of her new originals, Lenka’s show takes you on a deceptively realistic journey of life and the world, but with a whimsical chirpiness that gets the audience moving.

Finishing on a high, Lenka busts out the song that launched her career into stardom. ‘The Show’ was such a sweeping success since its release in 2008, that it came to a head with Billy Crystal doing a cover performance of it at the 2012 Oscars. Eleven years later, Lenka reflects on this success, producing a new version of the song on her new Recover EP. During her live performance, though, she sings the song in its original entirety, which gets everyone singing and clicking their fingers along.

Lenka hasn’t lost her touch. This Recover and Discover show further cements Lenka as a multi-faceted, charismatic songwriter and natural performer. It’s fair to say no one will “want their money back” for this particular show.

This was Lenka’s only Adelaide show, supported by Emma Knights. For future show dates, refer to this website.

Rating: ★★★1/2
Reviewed performance: 10 March 2020

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