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Thea Gilmore - Liejacker

Thea Gilmore, Lifejacker

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THEA Gilmore can proudly lay claim to having Bruce Springsteen and Martha Wainwright as being among her biggest fans. It’s little wonder, then, that she continually strives to test herself.

Her latest album, Liejacker, is described as her most personal work yet – and one of her proudest.“In the past I’ve probably been guilty of hiding a little bit and falling back on an image or a metaphor,” she explains. “But this time I was trying to get to the bone and just tell it like it is. The genesis of this record was very different from my previous albums. It’s the first that I’ve really felt a deep burn to make.”

It’s a statement that would describe the brooding, even burning, intensity that surrounds the album’s best moments – of which there are plenty.

Opening track Old Soul is a really moody slow-burner that boasts a telling vocal collaboration from The Zutons’ Dave McCabe, as well as a beautifully melancholy violin accompaniment, while there’s a dusky rock feel tied to the feisty Black Letter, which once again draws on violin and even banjo.

Dance In New York then proceeds to deliver one of the album’s definite highlights – a stripped back, yet deeply evocative recording that provides a beautifully realised platform for Gilmore’s stark vocals, as well as her songwriting skills. The chorus is particularly beguiling.

Rosie, meanwhile, is an achingly simple song that slow-builds from a really stark opening to become another disarming gem, while later on, Icarus Wind places Gilmore’s vocals against a piano backdrop and wallows in melancholy as it recalls its sorry tale.

Such moments come in stark contrast to the album’s livelier moments: the rocky Roll On, the happy go-lucky folk song When I Get Back To Shore, and the enthusiastic cover version of Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), which brings things to a feelgood close. No matter the style, most impress.

Just occasionally, a track fails to reach the heights set by Liejacker‘s finest moments, and feels more like a filler, but the overall impression is one of genuine quality and admiration. Gilmore, it seems, has dug deep and crafted a real gem.

Download picks: Dance In New York, Old Soul, Rosie, Icarus Wind, You Spin Me Round (hidden track), When I Get Back To The Shore, The Lower Road

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Track listing:

  1. Old Soul
  2. Black Letter
  3. Dance In New York
  4. Rosie
  5. Roll On
  6. Icarus Wind
  7. Wrong Side
  8. Slow Journey
  9. And You Shall Know No Other God
  10. When I Get Back To Shore
  11. Breathe
  12. Lower Road
  13. You Spin Me Round