Penelope Three is the third and final instalment of Australian-born Brighton-based musician Penelope Trappes’ trilogy. Completing this ambitious triptych with an album of healing, on which she looks to release herself from fear and into love, Penelope adds a suitable conclusion to both Two and One.
Penelope Trappes is a London-based, Australian-born vocalist, musician and ethereal soundscaper. She spent 2016 writing and recording what would become her first solo album, Penelope One in a piano studio in East London. Composed of mostly percussion-less, haunting atmospherics with dystopian themes, the LP was released via Optimo Music in 2017 on vinyl and also as a photo book. Penelope then signed to Houndstooth in 2018 and released her second LP Penelope Two to critical acclaim.
With a noticeable pattern here, Penelope Three is now out but shifts massively from the first LP, with this being about healing the stories held in her body by surrendering to universal love. In it, she explores her metamorphosis through tales of motherhood, the divine feminine, anxiety, healing powers and their spiritual connections through vocal loops, piano and guitar drenched in reverb, albeit holding her ethereal haunting soundscapes. Moving away also from the grieving process in Penelope Two, but also of societal anxieties, Three embraces the generational shift that is happening as her daughter grows up, her mother gets older and how she sees the world drastically changing. With the three records there is a distinct progression and inevitable evolve.
Crucially, for this final part of the trilogy, Penelope has returned to focus on her voice, her first and original instrument. Controlled yet mystifying, her vocals are enveloped by brooding soundscapes, transient and entrancing, at other times menacing and cavernous. Nervous swells with reverb and hints at anxiety before embedding itself into the world of Forest, a song languishing with the earthy ‘secrets far below’. Red Yellow is a personal favourite, as it emerges from the initial dark side of the album to alert us to a proactive energy, the colours referencing the Vedic belief in chakras and their psychic connections with our body. Embodying soul and a stripped back rhythm, Red Yellow captures the more positive and healing moments of living. The lyrics of Blood Moon look to ‘repurpose the fear within’, which she says is “a love letter to myself”. It’s not simply throughout the three LPs that we see development and movement in Trappes’ tracks.
On this trilogy of work, it’s clear that Trappes is authentic in her work and unashamed of sharing her experiences honestly within her work. With Penelope Three specifically displays these experience with pride; pain, joy, love, loss, and the freedom in accepting change and acknowledging lessons learnt. It is a celebration of womanhood and a testament to the wisdom acquired through living and allowing oneself to live, and thereby through making music and allowing oneself to make that music authentic.
Affecting, discharging, it appears with each release that Trappes’ matures in life and her art, an album that will sit somewhat uneasy with you until that Red Yellow moment, and takes a few listens before you too find peace with it.
Penelope Three is out now, via Houndstooth