Her second album, 2012's Halycon, went Top 10 in the U.K. and the United States. Yet Goulding has confounded critics, English critics in particular, with her muzzy mix of tingly dub-step and soft-spun folk and breezy balladry.
The frenzied crowd at the Factory (mostly young girls) didn't mind Goulding's mash-up. The baroque "My Blood" was a thumping electro-drama, and "Salt Skin" a witchy slice of art-pop. But "Explosions" was a bit of synth-ethereal sweetness with a mock choir behind Goulding's towering vocals. On the quiet side, there was the clingy, piano-driven "I Know You Care" and the watching-you-go ballad "Joy." There, Goulding's vocals found the perfect center between Kate Bush's fear-laced creak and Bjork's weirdly icy coo. But the songs led nowhere - certainly not to memorable choruses. Good, but not magnetic.
Not the case on folksier numbers such as "Guns and Horses." On that, alone with her acoustic guitar strummed strong, with a jazzy, cosmopolitan lilt, Goulding hit hardest, with incisive lyrics ("If I could erase the pain/ Maybe you'd feel the same/ I'd do it all for you") and a percussive refrain of "I would" that was among the most hauntingly contagious parts of the show.
St. Lucia - Goulding's opening act - was the perfect cute-and-catchy boy band, save for the fact they played their own instruments and had a girl playing epically aquatic keyboard sounds straight from the Tears for Fears songbook.