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jeudi 22 septembre 2005
 

But it's too difficult to keep them there.
(Revised for the brats. Workplace heads-up regarding pictures below: you may have scatty colleagues who object to little more than banana skirts.)
It remains lack of time that stops me from sharing discoveries as fast as I make them, still pursuing the primarily poetic theme of the last main entry, with both a retrospective and a little looking ahead.
Josephine BakerComputing (as logged in the wee hours of the day) is more tedious than naked musicians, whether it's their clothes that get set aside like Josephine Baker famously did way back or what they'd like to sing of their bared souls.
I'll breach the "no names" policy regarding friends because it's BJ we have to thank for reminding me and hence you, via the blogroll, of the Red Hot Jazz Archives, a resource as fabulous on how it was up until 1930 as what's so tragically forever now drowned in the various libraries of New Orleans. The link to the page on Josephine Baker and Lèon Jacob's Jazz is one of numerous examples of the wealth on offer. It's a superb site, but to enjoy it to the full you'll need RealPlayer on your computer.
The woman below is Rebekka Coseboom, snapped by Jay Blakesberg and flanked by her husband Ryan and their buddy Mikael, since I've been getting 'Wiser' (2001) with Halou, which somebody at the iTMS decided is "hip-hop/rap".
HalouRap music it isn't, though one day we'll see how some women can rap out poetry in intriguing and amusing ways, but my iPod fingers slid to Halou's inner spaces and well, okay, "trip-hop" ways after ... yes, I did buy Goldfrapp's 'Supernature', with its DVD.
This, however, is a "holding piece", as journalists describe stories that remind people we haven't completely forgotten the real news before it comes along.
Tonight I shan't review 'Wiser' but alert you that it's full of surprises and devious delights from a band set next month to sing of 'Wholeness and Separation' when their third album comes out.
Wholeness and separation, given the richly emotional charm Rebekka's vocals add, whether she's bright or stormy, to a chill-out we all need sometimes, remain concepts dear to my current inclinations and the underlying wild lust, shared sometimes by Alison Goldfrapp, the filthy beauty (once you've fathomed out a few of her lyrics).

Listening forward to it

Don't do a word-count search for sex, but my friends know that when it comes to "wholeness", separating our beastly ways from love may have made a front-line science entry once when those lab researchers told us about this, but it's lacking in harmony to do too much of it.
In fact, please don't expect the search engine to work properly with some of the most recent entries until I can make time to pursue changes under way here, by the end of the month.

Your feedback is coming in mainly by mail, and so are comments from women musicians and their agents that have surprised me. I plan to return the favours with surprises for you, happy that many seem to like to joining me in exploring some of the very best of what the music scene has had to offer in the quarter of a century since I wrote about it as a professional.
Someone wants met to tell you -- an excellent idea -- about Camille (home; Fr) some day, since it would be silly to lose Le Fil' (2005) -- the thread -- of France's fine, often exciting music scene. When it comes to poetry, this woman's got it, with more on the tip of her tongue.
With love on my lips now we're headed into the cold season, it'll soon be time to snuggle up closer than ever: writing up the inextricable tangles of music and sexuality sounds alarming, but it's worth illustrating -- profusely -- and without undue academics.
Before I open my personal X-Files, a final hint to drop is that while the store shelves weren't looted last time, as was my wont during previous diversions from iPod "issues" and saleswomen, my reasonable wants included some of yours.
BratmobileThe past year has brought more than super nature to spice up my life, not always via the ears. You may expect some of the latest from well-known quantities, if that's any way to speak of those already familiar to many ears, and to more unknowns of great quality who have risked joining their ranks in the past few weeks and months.
In short, ladies and gentlemen, I have found both my feet and a sense or two of direction in this aural world. Yes, I did say "gentlemen" but that was only teasing. After all, no less a source of inspiration to many, one Leonard Cohen, is into teamwork across the sexual gulf, if still you think there is one.
He's always been setting trends, in his way, with various 'Ladies, Women and Girls'. That's a kiss blown to Bratmobile (home), who didn't quite set a hot and steamy trend with the turn of the millennium -- Pat Graham took the picture around then, I do hope they've not grown out of it since -- but helped make it high time to agree with them and get dirty. The grrrls rock.
So let's have a riot.


8:49:17 PM  link   your views? []

mercredi 14 septembre 2005
 

Some apparitions are noteworthy whatever plans I have, so those who enjoyed mention of my friend Lauren (in Dakar when this was a life and ideas jotting pad and suchlike), may like to know this September 14 was the day she turned up.
In flesh and blood, I mean, me at work and she in transit. I was right, she looks lovely and is, someone befriended with little but a phone since it feels like forever. She got herself hitched last month. If you think that's private, I thought she was pulling legs about an eponymous wedding web site; I mean who'd do that?
Well, it seems she was telling the truth, the barmy woman.
You don't call the buddies I've got left "corny" particularly if they say so themselves, is that clear? But you may wish her well once she returns to Africa later this week.

A headful of 'Apparitions' (Amazon Fr link)' from Hungry Lucy has been particularly appropriate listening since last night, including some vocal preludes so apposite to other appearances of my day. I forgot Lauren was coming until after I woke up. Once I'd have logged screeds about how synchronicity's kicked in again.
Cynthia Dall

The woman in sepia is Cynthia Dall.
Cynthia's a bid to set my clock back since she knows 'Sound Restores Young Men'. If you want personal stuff, I could do with restoring. To be honest, after often crying wolf and expressing kinship with those beasts, it's now almost two months since a last deeply personal entry, in the orchard, but that proved this time to be a life-changing experience.
I won't touch those words but am a long way from getting over what happened that night and its deep impact. Enough people now know, so I might as well own up in public: what's the use of a journalist who suddenly finds after 30 years on the job he can no longer stomach violence and horror except in limited doses?
They shoot horses, don't they?
Well, it seems they won't shoot me, but I'm pacing life differently. The funniest, nicest term somebody came up with for what's been happening inside my head since that Night of Unknowing spoke of "your glitching synapses".
Funny; and clinically accurate enough, so I'm told.

Appearances can be deceptive, like apparitions. I've overslept twice badly of late and people have been patient about this slowdown, while most always knew the court jester for what he really is.
Cynthia Dall's demure sepia image is just as deceptive. This poet is pointing out, as she does with a CD cover that's not much more than a large red blob, "I may seem monochromatic, but just try me!"
She's an incitement to the touchy-feelies and gives false assurance -- with a very sweet voice often enough -- in songs like 'Be Safe with Me' and 'I'm Not Tempted', when the truth is she's extremely tempted, sings about it and has two tracks I find particularly outstanding, called 'Nest of Dead Children' and 'Snakeblood and Vodka'.
The latter is one of the "fly-away strangely" numbers I enjoy when on the move, almost eight minutes long and a devilishly successful combination of angelic vocals and catchy, menacing and chunky sound.

I found Cynthia under "rock".
Heaven knows why; very occasionally she does rock, but works from little sounds to come close to being a minimalist in the way she'll start frequently off just one or two notes on guitar or a wide range of keyboards and hypnotise you.
Along with snake's blood, there's plenty of rattle and the overall effect is a haunting one, like Hungry Lucy on 'Apparitions', which have since been revisited (that's their place, the link).
There'll be more to say of the poets who work subtly on our minds, they can be highly illuminating however dark and subterranean they are; songs on 'Apparitions' have a radiance reminding me of miners' stories about the light in the gems deep beneath the surface in the earth.

I've done so much talking and writing that subterranean changes mean learning to listen. Sometimes I hear people best when they're not there, but what they say or do about life creeps into my morning meditations. If you don't listen, you can search for harmony all you want and frequently kid yourself you've found it.
Some recent experiences make it more obvious than ever how when with others, what goes unsaid is often a source of more insight than spoken words. In all kinds of ways.
Without silence, there'd be no music, would there?

__________

*The allusion is partly musical, partly a nod to my favourite writer. In my version of her collection 'The Wind's Twelve Quarters', that story's in vol. 1. But it's 25 years old!


11:24:14 PM  link   your views? []

mercredi 7 septembre 2005
 

Heather NovaHow on any one earth can a single woman achieve such grace, such depths of sadness and breath-wrenching heights of joy, renewed album after album the way Heather Nova very often does?
Is it just me or should not everyone with an ear for beauty, snatched like rays from the prism of light of someone's soul and distilled into songs of such varied hues, be almost at her feet? We're borne away from our mundane lives like sailors content to leave the known lands behind and float adrift on ever changing seas where there are still dreamed beasts and enchanted islands ruled by strange divinities.
During some tempestuous times these past months, I've often weighed anchor myself to explore one or another of these CDs and can only think that others may already feel that 'Siren' got the name because Heather is one, with such a voice, or headlined some attempt to write about her with the one word "supernova"! What else?

Heather Nova has a huge following already, so maybe I move in less musically broad though very international circles than I'd imagined if quite a lot of people still say "Who's she?" Well, the deceptively frail-looking artist originally from Bermuda is one of several lyric poets or singers so good they're just heart-breaking. Also, I'd have asked the same of some not so long ago myself. Now they're people it will take weeks to get to know well, which doesn't stop me posting some pictures and broad remarks.
Several reviewers speak of Heather's apparent fragility, but she can whip up a tempest with a driving rock song before donning angel's wings (I suppose, having not yet seen her) to follow that with a seraphic near solo, as the live album 'Blow' (1998) attests ... or later 'Wonderlust'.
One poor guy, in brief comment at that habitual Amazon UK record link, thinks she's "outrageous" because she keeps on "abducting people to other worlds" -- and the bemused Oswald Mürner of Zurich is right, she does. In that Vienna concert shot (up top; uncredited but in 2002), Heather's quite probably looking for the next planet to land on.

Beth OrtonDuring the catching-up period -- my euphemistic term for reckless acquisitions in bulk on realising just what's out there -- several Nova albums went on to the shelves, as did music from Beth Orton (the Lincolnshire lass of the stark, direct gaze).
With Emiliana Torrini (pictured below in inner space), one surprise was finding she comes from Iceland, just like Björk, which doesn't lend itself to guesswork until you pay considerable attention to her accent ... and even then.
The other poet-singer is Chantal Kreviazuk and her sense of 'Colour Moving and Still', when she in 2000 did some 'Soul Searching', went 'Blue' and got many people moved by her 'Little Things'.

At a wild guess, Nova's names for albums such as 'Oyster', 'Storm' and 'South' could also be descriptions of Heather herself depending where her spirit is and how expansive or intimate her words and music are. Unless you cheat, you can't tell what you're in for until you've arrived: it can be sparing and acoustic, a thread of some sweet fancy, occasionally she's almost got an orchestra or conjures up choirs and then she's got you dancing your buttons undone. You can only tell she is from Planet Earth because some of her tales of love or fantasy or grief sound like your very own.

Beth Orton (Astralwerks; a Flash "launchpad", beware browser misbehaviour) made a reputation with albums titled for places of transition, whether it's life in 'Trailer Park' or stuck on the 'Central Reservation', both soon to to be reissued as one, which makes for excellent company. Her lyrics may be more immediately earthbound than some by the other singers here, but her outlook is no less poetic when our boldest fancies can be nurtured in the grittiest of places to unleash imagination.

I've been relishing Emiliana Torrini's 'Fisherman's Woman' so secretly for months -- it was released in January -- that she's another musician who sent me searching backwards through her career for more, to be bowled over by 'Love in the Time of Science' (1999), a splendid title that says a little of the content, where even 'Telepathy' makes for some surprisingly close contact and grows naturally from the song before it, sometimes almost to explode in your head.
Emiliana TorriniDid you know Emiliana did her bit in the 'Lord of the Rings' films? To believe what she says at her place, she almost went out of her way to avoid actually having to give us a second album in six years. After everything she packed into the first, it's scarcely astonishing. She can slip from a sunny, carefree loving to the darkness of stormclouds as swiftly as some Nordic deity chucking thunderbolts around just for the fun of it.

When I win some lottery by finding a lost ticket, one of the first things I shall do is find out whether the far-reaching Kreviazuk made up her mind on asking, in 2003, 'What if It All Means Something.'
Chantal KreviazukI imagine that while she may sing her way down more winding trails, strewing delicate flowers as she goes, if music comes into it her original diversions do end up somewhere people can recognise each other and it does mean something.

I've written virtually nothing of songs themselves because I prefer to focus on the sharing of poetry, which is in some cases more "difficult" than others and takes several hearings to get into before words and music take deep root right back in you, cutting to the very quick of our own emotions and experiences.
The heartbreak factor is frequently in the sublime voices of such singers as well as the light or heavy matter of their lyrics, which would be distressingly intimate almost if they weren't so very good at helping you know how you feel about a thing or two.
In this, they and many others shine into the darkest recesses of our own lives when the songs don't share the bright times that come with love and funny secrets shared. Listening to such women reminds me why the focus here is on the girls rather than the guys -- it's not just a question of lust for looks or an only too human hand across the sex divide, if such there is, but the way they say things.
We blokes feel those things too, but for a multitude of reasons I was prone to include in my ramblings of yore, are usually less good at saying them -- let alone singing our poor hearts out, in public. Twice in a row, I've read some standard questions thrown at up-and-coming lads by one music rag that sought tediously routine answers on priorities such as which football team really has God on its side or should have if they're to be happy, and if they want to be millionaires when they're rolling in muck already.
Crass generalisation, I know, but never mind; the women don't.
It's also only women who have mailed me expressions of regret I've stopped logging my own life and adventures of all natures. These dainty souls are particularly objectionable with their protests because if they go on like that, though extremely few in number, I'll probably crack again and start issuing further sermons, soliloquies and stupidities you'll all live to regret even more.
So please pack it in, you adorable lovelies, and listen perhaps to Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' rather than chipping away at the bricks in mine.
You never know what might come out. Enough did already what with my own soul-searching, culminating in an experience you got told about anyway, though very few people seem to understand what happened to me. Why should they since I haven't yet myself? That will take months, maybe years.

Hence you have the poets, women wordsmiths so gifted with their pens and tongues and ears for the right note they each set us afloat on their own oceans or lift the whole lot of us out of our private spaces and time to fly us so far away we come to that strange place where they can surely sing: "This is me, then, and I might be you. Now let us sing together."

Such people are in themselves true gifts. I know, I'm waxing philosophical, and this I don't wish to do because events have somehow come together of late that make me feel older and somehow sadder and also sometimes happier at the same time, so instead of thought each of my days begins with meditation where the insights and ideas seem to come from nowhere and I like it that way.
One terrible truth is that the big five-oh is rushing up on me and I'd quite like to feel fairly sure I may have got somewhere when it hits, so I can look back to see a sense of direction and forward just to see a bit of sense at all. Was that intimate enough?

I don't recall which of these singers was on the iPod the other day when I was in the M and saw a very physical angel. This angel in the M was unusual. Quite apart from being one of the very prettiest women I have ever seen, a natural straw-head blonde with bright grey-green eyes and without any ornamentation or need for it, she smiled two or three times, not to anyone but herself, completely privately in sardine-can public.
She was simply dressed, in a black T-shirt, jeans and trainers, and when she got off, she did a profile check of herself in the door windows of the train at that moment they're still mirrors before becoming neon-glaring densely populated platforms. And smiled again.
She'd got just to that secret age many women have when some quiet confidence starts making each of their life's touching little scars all the lovelier.
It was quick, just fleeting instants, but during them I thought to myself: "That mind completely inhabits that body, they are one, she is beautiful, knows it without pretension and is happy right now. She is music at this moment, nothing else." As was the graceful way she then slipped past everybody else and rushed up the steps perhaps to whatever or whoever it was that had given her those smiles, leaving me to my soundscape shaped by somebody else's fantasy.
That was a wonderful snippet of intimate perfection somehow shared; perhaps the woman knew, perhaps she didn't. That's exactly what the singers do, not always perfectly, but never mind that: they give to us of their intimacy to let us make it our own, we becomes selves almost mirrored in sound, never true mirrors since they're each unique, as everybody has to learn to be in the end.

If you suffered through those observations -- I'll name no names of kind people who are rattling my cage -- then you'll know why you're better off listening to any one of these women than reading any of my waffle. Some poet-singers I shall write about more one day when I do know them better, but they enrich my life immeasurably as it is. They also make it easy when it comes to that revolting task of trying to tell you what kind of music they do: rock, blues, class .... forget it. They don't.
Some call their kind Absolute Divas, which -- like other sites that usually do the women justice rather than being showrooms for critical egos -- is now on the blogroll. I'm also often at Auralgasms since I appreciate the way one "auralgasm" leads to another ... until I remember I have a wishlist, not a wad in a wallet.
These women are among an ever larger bunch on my iTunes and iPod that has but one genre all its own: singer-songwriter. Some started out listed by type, then moved there instead. All have their own web sites, so you can can make up your own mind what type they are. If you succeed, congratulations.
I haven't.


1:04:46 AM  link   your views? []

dimanche 4 septembre 2005
 

Revised to illustrate, thanks to Ed Weingart*.

The catastrophe in this wonderful city, the fate of so many of its residents, and the dire straits of those now facing a life without their homes, loved ones and so much else that made for happiness in their lives is a shockingly moving event.
My heart goes out to the survivors and everybody else taking in the immediate consequences of Hurricane Katrina (Wikipedia) in the city and the other places devastated by the disaster, it is wretchedly sad and I pray we may never see the like again.
Since New Orleans has been a place with a remarkable musical heritage and legacy touching on so many aspects of the art today, I'd like perhaps at some stage to say more on this log of how the tragedy seems to somebody who loves music so much, but it's not the time for that yet, when what matters far more is to safeguard and rebuild as best may broken lives and shattered institutions.

I extend my deepest condolences to everybody hurt in the dreadful event or otherwise affected and have many a thought, as each one of us takes in its magnitude and long-term impact, for those engaged in recovery and rescue work.
How profoundly I hope that anybody with something to learn from this natural catastrophe and its implications -- and that's pretty much all of us from our different viewpoints -- may do so for the sake of our lives, the shape of the world we live in and our children.

While I know the priorities right now are to remake and renew all the good and the hope that can be salvaged in what is otherwise gone forever, to fund it and to treasure the marvellous memories of what has been lost, it's not in me to condemn angry people whose sometimes very strong reactions to a lack of foresight or planning ahead and an inability to respond fast by some people to an immediate emergency have been slated -- and grotesquely so -- as "inappropriate" at this time.
Anyone not directly affected by the event who has a decent, reasonable and thoughtful response to it, rather than foolish point-scoring in politics or elsewhere, is no less a person who cares and is learning and addressing themself to the future than others who say they have taken more "distance" or protest about the protestors.
I express fellow feeling with some of the people who've been angry because, while politicking and measuring the lack of humanity that contributed to and then worsened the effects of what was a storm hard already to take in by any standards have no place any more here, a certain outrage is something I share with them.
New Orleans StyleThose who are elected to lead others have a public responsibility at all times to do so without question or balking. In life, as in any musical performance worthy of the name, the immediate reaction if something goes so terribly wrong should be to take steps to remedy it at once.
Nobody can expect flawless performance from anyone else, but a failure to be a responsive and responsible part of the act when you are and have been entrusted by others with such duties strikes me as an unwise, cold and ultimately inhuman way to behave.
It's a pity.

These days, I find in music meaning and metaphor for other parts of our lives and it's easy to see the whole world as a kind of music we make together, many harmoniously but while others persist in playing to a tune all their own, inflicting these on the rest of us, and even expecting us to like and admire them for it.
That's difficult, when to seek harmony is a choice, just like the exercise of freedom and the skills of sound improvisation.

I think political leaders and other practised "performers" who opt for anything far short of staying in tune should be judged on those grounds and when they prove unable to find a melody that fits the circumstances, they merit the treatment any orchestra player would be given by peers for constant failures to listen and a talent for producing little but dissonance.
True discord and dissonance is a kind of violence, like any other. And that, rather sadly, but with a heart wrenched and with the highest regard for everyone who is working together constructively, is all I have now to say arising from that musical wonder, New Orleans.

_________

*Ed Weingart last year took the irresistible photo my imagination might conjure up for a place never visited. All credit to Ed, whose own favorites, he says, "include animal close-ups and scenes from nature". (Galleries and more at 'efwdigital').

zzz

Entries may prove rare here for a while, for work and personal reasons. The "comment rating" on the site has dropped to almost zero since the decision to go musical and almost nothing else ... but there's been feedback elsewhere I rejoice in. So, thanks everybody.
For a good chunk of weekend, I've had other pieces in hand, one about several singers and another in answer to friends and mail writers who've come up with a bunch of good ideas and suggestions.
Of a few more singers, notably people with new albums out soon and fine poet-musician careers under their belts in a couple of cases -- though known only to a lucky relatively small audience -- there will be mention when I can.
But the criticism I've drawn already, sometimes negative but very usually constructive and helpful, merits further thought and indeed networking. The quick answer to those who've asked, "A mailing list, please," for instance, is "Yes, I'll do that."
Along with further changes.
To be frank, I had no idea when I changed tack that what I'm doing -- often belatedly discovering one superb singer after another -- could arouse so much interest when on other sites, the reputation of many is taken for granted.
The fact is, it isn't. Those I'm listening to are often just as new to others, even when they've been around for quite a while. So I have to think "Links, budget, options and feedback" through even more than so far.
Please excuse me taking a break while I do this too and thank you again for the encouragement. That's fantastic!


10:12:27 PM  link   your views? []

vendredi 2 septembre 2005
 

It's all about exposure.
Goldfrapp's new release, 'Supernature', is a cut above comparisons of any kind (a tease at the end will turn into a review when I can). They're on the up and going strong.
What if you're no longer sure, but you know you've been very hot and you're grounded for a while?
If you too do songs a cut above the rest and you're honest, you might be called Liz Phair. On the stength of what she's done, 'Somebody's Miracle', coming out next month, has shot pretty close to the top of my wish list.

Lately I've been flying with Liz and one or two other women who write soaring songs with a biting lyrical edge borne aloft on music made to last, sometimes alone, generally with almost irreproachably good bands.
Liz Phair made a name on sex and sensuality, but it's a sensitivity and openness to others -- when she's open to such exposure herself -- that has me hooked, like Heather Nova, another songwriter with a lot to say.
The singers I'm getting to know have little in common but my own pleasure in hanging around with each one for a long while, since the music's good right from the start but the real rewards come with songs that aren't always immediately accessible.

After a cracking 1993 debut, then other albums less well known to me, I've stuck with 'Liz Phair' (Oct 2003), and the more I listen, the more I like it.
Harsh reviews talk about the like of a "crack in a cheery façade" -- it's not just a crack, it's right through the album:
"Holding hands with you, and we're out at night
Got a girlfriend, you say it isn't right
And I've got someone waiting too

This is, this is just the beginning
We're already wet, and we're gonna go swimming

Why can't I breathe whenever I think about you
Why can't I speak whenever I talk about you
It's inevitable, ..."
and she sings how, for her, it's inevitable in 'Why Can't I?', and then there's 'Rock Me' -- "rock me very hard" appeals the upfront cover art, she wears little more than a guitar and does so with a thigh-spread that says what she wants and still sings of getting on much of the eponymous album.
Such sex songs -- a bunch of them, including 'HWC', a free "hot white" ... skin cream not to be taken for more than the randy, I barely dare say "tongue-in-cheek", nonsense it is -- annoy many a professional critic, because Phair in her late 30s, and a single mother, doesn't cut deep.
After all, she's only saying "Come on, guys" herself, so what? But to weighty minds, she thus disappoints very high expectations set by the sharply penned and acute insights of the 1999 'Exile in Guyville', which tore headlong through "niceties" and far less likeable things in people.

So it's deceptively easy to dismiss the lyrical content of her last album as soft fare indeed:

"Even the songs on Liz Phair that could be considered 'shocking' or 'profound' are gratuitous and overdetermined, eschewing the stark and accusatory insights of Exile in favor of pointless f-bombs, manipulative ballads, and foul-mouthed shmeminism."
Liz Phair 1That's tough writing from Matt LeMay at Pitchfork, but it's not what I hear myself, while to speak as he does of a "collection of utterly generic rocked-out pop songs" is way over the top.

They're not, they're good songs.
Like I said, it's all about exposure. If LeMay in 2003 says Liz was frank about going for mainstream success, I'll take his word for it. Still, when you get to be a single mum at 32, but a man-eater outlook and raw body language have been your expected "market skills", maybe you start asking nail-biting questions.
Occasionally this 'Liz Phair', settles for the trite -- and with the music that's just fine -- but with a very personal side kept on a much tighter rein than on 'Exile in Guyville'.
'Little Digger', her words for a very small boy's perspective on mum's men: she gets that right, she's not blind to what she's doing and still she'll face up to it and say it. Say it for us, and with the kid:

"You put your trucks up on the bed next to him
So he can get a better look at them, you say
This one's my favorite one, this one you can't have
I got it from my Dad, you say
I got it from my Dad

Now you're thinking little thoughts about it
Taking every inch of him in
What does it mean when something changes how its always been
And in your head you keep repeating the line
My Mother is mine

I've done the damage, the damage is done
I pray to God that I'm the damaged one
In all these grown-up complications that you don't understand..."
It's a beautiful song, rather more than "moderately poignant" as someone said who may not know any single mums, there's a lot of love for the 'Little Digger', and there's regret; and Liz has got a job to do, making good rock albums, taking risks, and even turning a hard time around ... in public. Liz is also measuring loss:
"Gonna take a vacation
Stop chasing what I lack
Am I gonna get blown off
As soon as I get back
On another track
Without you

'Cause I don't have the heart to try
One more false start in life
It's been so hard to get it right...,"
she sings on the penultimate track.

Listening to those albums in tandem, from the smart, feisty lady out to get her way in the world, 'Exile in Guyville, to this is enlightening. To shift back and forth across a full four years' difference in the life of the woman brings more insight into how -- just perhaps, who can say? -- she too thought "Fair enough", ease off; for times they are a-changing and you can hear her changing with them.
Liz Phair 2There's no lack of deep feeling for her child, but she still wants the loving herself and will say it, so some find she's vulgar -- when she's blunt -- and she doesn't look for any easy answers.
She wanted a break from the passing of time, that's clear, she's out to let her hair down and she does in a satisfying, good and rich rock album, melodically appealing, punchy, thoroughly enjoyable on the whole and ... I'd guess (and hope) a phase.

I wouldn't fling words like "immature" at a woman headed for the "big four-oh", as some nervously describe it, who'll have a fling with a younger guy, and just funnily compare the ease of a familiar lover to comfortable old underwear in 'Favourite'; there's more heart-searching in this album than immediately meets the ear.
Some found 'Exile in Guyville' shocking for what it sometimes says; moving on, I hear an honest singer out less to work any more by "shock tactics" than to be open about vulnerability. One perspective says to put out a self-named CD means either just starting or trying for a new audience; I hear it more as a stock-taking, it's her "this is me then", without overwhelming herself or us with the introspection. Because still she rocks, very well and her band is right with her.
If people enjoyed being shocked or "offended" because Liz Phair can't share a package deal of social values and turns some of them upside down, then to write her off for easing off and ceasing openly to ask a lot of questions is an unfair dismissal. The questions are there if you listen, along with the cutting wordplay she's good at.
As the Liz Phair site shows, her life is still often a busy time on the road (the second picture, in Atlanta a couple of years back, comes from Concert Shots; the other wasn't credited).

I'm introducing a theme here, singer-songwriters with really quite some bite to their words and engaging in self-exposure as a means of making a living, giving others a good time by doing this.
She's a good intro to such a theme: Liz took a consuming human interest, sex, provided alleged "shock value" with it, because it's not hard to imagine her most virulent critics just find it harder than some to admit what people really yell is "More, give us more!", then gave herself a break for what some hint was a kind of self-satisfaction, aware of her age.
She's done a vulnerable album as a vulnerable woman, but not complacent and so I'm impatient for the next one, and wish her the very best with it..
I wouldn't like to predict who she'll be on it, still herself, I doubt she's suddenly shed the honesty.
That's a theme well worth a closer look, since it's clear a good number of the singers coming up one after another here go far further than many actors do; they've chosen to give people music and much pleasure from it by playing an extremely difficult role, in public, very often on stage: themselves.

zzz

As for 'Supernature' on being lent a copy briefly, it was easy to agree with those who can hear echoes of people as diverse as Kate Bush and Gary Numan (his his NuWorld ... a guy worth a look in here, like Nick Cave and indeed Leonard Cohen).
That's a passing "If you can, do try it" reference, while the home site of the exciting duo, Alison G -- her sophisticated self -- and Will Gregory, the other half, also merits a stop, not just for creepy-crawlies (Goldfrapp; not at work, you'll probably want to turn up what you find there, it's distracting). I look forward to getting into more...


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