James Vella, here working as the multitasking lone personnel of A Lily, is also known for his work as guitarist/composer for the post-classical/indie UK band yndi halda, as the owner of the O Rosa Records label and as staff member of FatCat Records.
As A Lily, his output has ranged from the sweet, organic laptop-based solo material of debut album wake:sleep (2006) to the melancholic, longing Americana of limited-release EP I Dress My Ankles With God’s Sweetest Words (2008) to the skyscraping, all-encompassing forthcoming album Thunder Ate The Iron Tree (2011). All are characterised by Vella’s distinctive compositional voice and broad palette of instrumentation, yet all occupy a different musical space. Thunder Ate The Iron Tree – ostensibly a pure pop record that embraces trad jazz, pure noise, modern classicism, woozy electronica, bouncing calypso, rhythm-heavy afrobeat and beyond – is a flickering, dizzying, highly complementary addition to a quickly growing personal canon.
A Lily as a recorded project is almost entirely the work of Vella alone, with guest musicians donating brass, string and woodwind embellishments. Live, a seven-piece band (also featuring yndi halda drummer Oliver Newton and collaborators on harp, strings and more band-based instruments) share a wealth of instruments and rearrange solo material into something very different.