When Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE decides to release a solo project, she creates “music for fast moving clouds”.

Conceived in a moment of deep transition, ‘Your Own Shadow’ is an amalgamation of organically developed raw sounds, haunting vocals and tribal inserts, enveloped in delicious synth and simplistic melodies.

NOBLESSE OBLIGE’s last album ‘Affair Of The Heart’ in 2013 featured a stark funereal cover of ‘Hotel California’, while the duo also opened for IAMX and were championed by Mark Reeder.

Whilst walking the path alone can be challenging, Renay rises to the occasion with innate power and the need to discover her real self: “The desire to explore my own limits and share intimate sensations motivated me to write these songs. I started this solo project to exorcise private demons. Writing songs alone is such a beautiful but lonely path, you are faced with yourself, your own fear, your own doubts but also the incredible feeling that everything is possible and options are endless. The choice is yours, you’re the pilot flying that plane. I needed to get those songs out of my system because they inhabited me like unresolved, fragile tales that I wanted to share, to understand better who I am.”

The exhilarating ‘Speed Of Blue’ was penned by Ian Pickering of SNEAKER PIMPS and Renay delivers it with a poise and passion, which bubbles underneath, waiting to be expelled. Her vocal, styled on that of Ian Curtis brings gloom and hope at the same time, while ‘Sailor’ soothes with its bluesy textures à la John Fryer on his BLACK NEEDLE NOISE project.

‘Hollow’ releases deep sadness, in keeping with ‘Darkest Lake’, where deeply hidden vulnerabilities come to the surface. This closing song is beautifully ethereal and delicate, floating lightly with the unlimited weightlessness of filmic qualities.

In contrast, ‘Kick Again’ and ‘Rough & Ready’ border on rebellious harshness, which suits Renay’s love affair with extremities. ‘Melancholia’ is poetically bare and delivered with minimalistic messages in French, where the choice of tongue adds to the romantic feel of the finished product.

A very different proposition from her work with NOBLESSE OBLIGE, Renay’s first solo product is amazingly fluid and harmonious.

“‘Your Own Shadow’, the title of the album refers to the feeling you have when you don’t recognise yourself anymore because you are made to feel small, insignificant, empty and lost” she said, “You know this is not the real you… Somewhere the real you still has fire and power but your very existence feels so meaningless. You forget how to be standing on your own two feet.”

With this opus, Valerie Renay definitely stands on her own two feet with a triumphant message of sensually charged, cinematic deliveries superbly put together and executed. Way to go!

‘Your Own Shadow’ is available direct from https://valerierenay.bandcamp.com/

VALERIE RENAY plays The Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DX on Friday 15th November 2019





Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
20th September 2018, updated 13th October 2019