London-based Helen Dooley is The Cheek of Her (TCOH), a singer-songwriter whose cheeky discography includes titles like Adult Angst Anonymous and Passionate Shit. Her latest effort, a five-track EP titled Black Heart Mantra, arrives on May 2.
On the upcoming album, longtime collaborator Sean Kennedy covers strings (guitar, bass, and synthesized instruments), Chris Hardwick plays drums, and Dooley handles piano and all vocal responsibilities to create its resonant textures. The singer-songwriter layers her vocals to enrich the mix, with one iteration of her alto singing atop the rest, delivering those cheeky lyrics for which she’s named.
“Make love like you mean it / forget all this bullshit / It ain’t easy being real these days,” she sings on the record’s lead single, “9 Lives.” Much of her thematic material revolves around love, being real, and general carpe diem.
She demands on “Black Heart Mantra,” for instance: “Tell me exactly how you feel / Let’s quit the small talk, keep it real.”
Dooley has had enough games, and Black Heart Mantra seems to be her testament to that discontent. “Don’t play with this heart / this heart of mine / don’t be so inclined / Because you’ve got it in your hand / and you’re such a strong man,” she continues on the title track.
The EP is very clean, and Dooley is certainly impassioned throughout its 18-minute duration. That fervid approach can be heard in the moments her British inflection shines through; more than anything else, Black Heart Mantra is heartfelt and real, and it’s hard to ask for more than that.