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CD: Thea Gilmore - Ghosts and Graffiti | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Thea Gilmore - Ghosts and Graffiti

CD: Thea Gilmore - Ghosts and Graffiti

Only one eye on the past in new collection from England's finest songwriter

Thea Gilmore's 'Ghosts and Graffiti' - part new songs, part old favourites

Almost two decades into a distinguished career, nobody would have judged Thea Gilmore for indulging herself with a greatest hits collection – indeed, it’s something that record labels have been bugging her about for years.

Album number 15 Ghosts and Graffiti is perhaps intended as a compromise – part new songs and part old favourites, featuring an all-star cast of collaborators and reinterpreted with the same affection and irreverence the singer-songwriter recently brought to Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and the lost lyrics of Sandy Denny.

Two of the songs from Don’t Stop Singing, the 2011 collection on which Gilmore put Denny’s unused lyrics to compositions of her own, feature among the rich pickings here if you know where to look. The melodies are perhaps folksier than the roots-rock sound Gilmore has grown into, but the lyrics in particular could have come straight from the head of another songwriter who has spent plenty of nights on the road since the age of 18. Recent radio-friendly hits like new single “Coming Back to You” and “Start As You Mean to Go On” – from 2013’s Regardless, and given a second airing here – may be sonically different beasts, but the juxtaposition is never jarring.

Gilmore has never shied away from either the personal or the political in her lyrics: “This Girl Is Taking Bets”, one of her most beloved songs and a proto-feminist anthem, is a case in point. Its reworking here, with guest vocals from the equally righteous Joan As Police Woman, is an absolute treat. Now 14 years old, the song’s strident reworking is no more one of the “ghosts” of the album’s title than the Billy Bragg duet “My Voice” or razor-sharp poem “Don’t Set Foot Over the Railway Track”, recited by John Cooper Clarke over a discordant, minimalist electro backdrop, are ephemeral like graffiti. Not the closing of a book then, but the herald of a whole new chapter.

Overleaf: hear new song "Coming Back to You"

Gilmore has never shied away from either the personal or the political


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Brilliant, this is a true delight and full of surprises. The other artists add another dimension and layer to what is a great album. John Cooper Clarke's contribution was areal delight, I have never listened to his work but in this context it has triggered my interest. Thanks for a terrific album.

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