Lenoy Barkai’s debut album, Paper Crown, is an eerie concoction of melody and lyrical poeticism

A cyber security consultant by day, and a new mom all the time, Lenoy Barkai studied classical singing at the South African College of Music in Cape Town and has been making music after hours ever since.

Drawing on elements of pop, indie-rock and alternative folk, her stunning debut Paper Crown evokes vivid and atmospheric soundscapes that float between levity and melancholy.

Opener “Chemical Emily” sets the tone for what is to come – distorted electronica underpinned by a sensitive tone of musicality that captures intimate moments in the singer-songwriter’s life, from crumbling relationships to grappling with her own self-perception.

The track is an ode to Cape Town’s Long Street, in the early hours of the morning, and hinges on only three chords. It’s steeped in simplicity, with an elaborate sound mix that makes it vastly more intricate. Engineered by Adrian Culhane, sounds come together with ease, as though they belong nowhere else but where they have been so delicately placed.

The album recalls a kind of stripped back Florence Welch, or Aldous Harding, especially in its moments of deft melody that very quickly become a hallmark quality of Barkai’s off-kilter sound.

It shines repeatedly, as in the soft falsettos of “Me And These Keys”, the rising lullabies of “The Kill”, and the unadorned keys of title track “Paper Crown”. Ultimately, her elegance as a songwriter is commendable, presenting a plainsong album that begs to be cherished.

Feature pic supplied by artist