There’s a lot of staring into the bottom of a half empty glass, the opener and title track is some bucolic lament in an empty, echoing ballroom, very reminiscent of Pink Elephants by Mick Harvey.
A great record, this, showing off a heady cocktail of killer tunes and a strong personality. The cover is a strange one mind, a bit incongruous to be honest and because of that I sort of skipped listening to the record. We see a faux-primitive drawing, doubtless significant or allegorical to a degree. A lady dressed in the style of the mid C19th, and surrounded by the inhabitants of a frontier town, is about to shoot a bearded man in the stocks with a revolver. I’m guessing wildly of course, but the man must be the main laddie in Magic Trick. I think we’re meant to feel his pain, or realise this is a “heavy” listen. Being a typical Brit, “drowning in irony” this of course rattled me, to my cost. Because this is a cracking listen.
There’s a lot of staring into the bottom of a half empty glass, the opener and title track is some bucolic lament in an empty, echoing ballroom, very reminiscent of Pink Elephants by Mick Harvey. The whole thing’s a bit like Lee Hazelwood too, in that you get the feeling the ideas behind the music are just too serious for the sounds we hear; or it’s so serious that you have to joke about the subject to keep your head together, (or just that it’s one big joke). Angel Dust or Weird Memory just need Nancy S’s soothing counterpoint melodies, whereas Sunny is a great mock-pop song; its jauntiness weighed down to breaking point by the utter weariness of the vocals and their bleak message. Or take Next to Nothing, where the lines “Don’t settle for sadness or rage, or malice” sounds exactly what the singer has done. The cheeky flute reprise just kicks this feeling home, like ball rammed down the barrel of a Brown Bess.
The music is truly Bohemian, truly romantic - frayed at the edges, quietly hysterical and saved by its own beauty time and time again. There are some great rolling melodies too, such as Torture, Ruby and Melodies, where the rasping vocals soar in concert with the chorus and are up there with things like Scott Walker’s Blacksheep Boy. (A side note - a bit like a Greek tragedy, the voices in the chorus always turns up to emphasize the moral dilemma faced – listen to the charming Same People where the chorus almost brutally cries “how do you know? How do you know? – it’s bleak stuff).
So, you’ve heard it all before for sure, especially if you like Cash, Earle, Walker or Hazlewood, but it’s a damned fine record and worth your time.