Wendy McNeill – A Dreamer’s Guide to Hardcore Living
Top LP this, what with the highly attractive vocal parts, (McNeill’s got a very empathic voice and direct, no-nonsense lyrics), and the brilliantly simple instrumentation (such as fab accordion-based tracks like The Sad Ssssad Story of Rosa Rabbit and Sasha Snake, which, incidentally, is nowhere near as twee as it sounds). There is also a complete lack of sloppy dreaminess. Even the “traditional” female singer songwriter tracks like Stop and Building a Castle are pretty sinister. And, behind the klezmer stylings, the track Ask Me No Questions seems to deal with shape-shifting….
The emotional directness that McNeill trades in can be best heard in the stand-out tracks on the album; Crossing Hearts/Cutting Threads, which is a tremendous mix of rock and lullaby that gets ever so slightly Gothick. The dark side is carried over into the following track Faith and the Long Haired Men, where “dark dogs nip” at her heals and “phantoms touch” her through the winter. It’s powerful stuff.
Another cracking track is White Horses which (with the sinister scraping sounds playing off some eerie strings), threatens to get very strange indeed, in the best Kate Bush / My Brightest Diamond tradition.
It’s well worth allowing this LP to slip, unnoticed, into your mind.
Words: Richard Foster