24 May 2008

I want to just breathe...


A new Thea album, a new set of songs to get overly attached to, and a new personal favourite not even mentioned in the professional reviews of the album.

Thea Gilmore is the closest I get to fandom: I'm a dedicated follower, a self-confessed fan owning most of what is available, and I find it hard to so much as acknowledge criticism as fair unless I've had a chance to grill the one levelling accusations to see why their falsehoods (yeah, I'll talk in absolutes here for effect) have been laid down. I've been rapt since I was encouraged to pick up Rules for Jokers 6 or so years ago. Each subsequent album, and each acquisition of earlier work, has simply brought a greater appreciation and better big picture view. Yes, there are dud songs in the seven or so albums released, and yes it remains true that my strongest connection is to the works I first heard but each album has brought with it new and fantastic tunes to add to the playlist of genuinely brilliant stuff that revolves in my mind.

Liejacker is no different - a few stand out tracks, a couple that disappoint just slightly due to their similarity in form to previous work, and one tune that really touches a nerve with me that is hardly mentioned in any review I've read. Breathe, from which I took the title of this post, touches me deeply and along with the opener, Old Soul, forms the backbone of a record I have listened to more in an opening week than any for some time. Even the 10 year wait didn't inspire this many listens when Portishead released Third. But then I have to admit bias where Thea is concerned - objectivity flies away just like any personal cares or consideration do when I hear her material. Liejacker has ever managed to vie with King Creosote's Bombshell for play this week which is some measure. I've been playing songs from Bombshell (whilst that album was a 2007 release, I've only had it for about a month) almost non-stop since it dropped through my door and I consider it an instant classic I really shouldn't have missed on release.

Whilst the spin from Thea (via the mailing list and other sources) has very much been about the most personal album to date - and yeah, I can see that - my focus has been on the few stand-out tracks and how their tone is more unified, more consistent; whether that is really wanted or not is another matter. Ultimately I think I pine for the days of Rules for Jokers or earlier, with the accompanying variation, lyrical edge, and rawness, but I have to say that, unsurprisingly, Liejacker has nonetheless shot to the top of my own albums of 2008 list, above Third. I do, however, suspect it might be beaten to the title of my personal album of the year - either by Steve Mason's forthcoming Black Affair release Pleasure Pressure Point, or by the promised Massive Attack record, should it see the light of day.

Not a good review here, but that was never the intent; I juest felt the (drunken) need to proclaim the release for good or ill. Liejacker is out, and I'm happily going to see the supporting tour when it hits Oxford in a month. And that all makes me happy.

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