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THEA GILMORE Liejacker Fruitcake Music (2008)

Thea Gilmore

It's hard to believe it's been 18 months since Thea's last album - Harpo's Ghost. And while for most artists that would hardly be long enough to draw breath, for Thea Gilmore it's been long enough to ditch her record company, part ways with her long time manager, and give birth to her first child. And that's when she wasn't recording what is perhaps her most personal album to date.

This time out the album was recorded using a 'back to basics' approach - much of the recording being done at Thea's small home studio with long term musical partner Nigel Stonier playing a variety of acoustic instruments including guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, melodica and ukulele. As a result, the pop/rock that permeated her more recent output has been replaced with a more acoustic feel.

There's also a host of 'guest' stars with Dave McCabe of the Zutons duetting on Old Soul, and Joan Baez proving the foil on The Lower Road. Elsewhere, Erin McKeown provides harmonies on Dance In New York, and also making appearances are roots musicians Steve Wickham of the Waterboys, John Kirkpatrick from the Richard Thompson band, and Laura Reid from the Kathryn Williams band.

The result is perhaps her most mature piece of work, and one that could well find favour on the other side of the pond. While unmistakeably Thea Gilmore, on a number of tracks I found myself drawing comparisons with Sarah McLaughlan whose shooting star has hit an asteroid patch, so there's an undeniable gap in the market.

But fear not Gilmore fans, Liejacker is no sell out. It opens with the wonderful lead single Old Soul - a wonderful duet with Dave McCabe - and peach of a track. It's immediately followed by Black Letter, which is a classic piece of Gilmore and destined to be a crowd favourite. Roll On sounds eerily familiar and reminiscent of the Avalanche period, while Icarus Wind is stunningly simple and beautiful.

Elsewhere, the quality control remains turned up to eleven; on what is undoubtedly her most mature and introspective piece of work to date. And as a 'bonus' you get Thea's contribution to the Liverpool No. Ones record - her interpretation of Dead Or Alive's You Spin Me Round. Can't be bad.


Review by Pete Whalley

GRTR! Recommended


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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