Album of the Week: Thea Gilmore, Murphy’s Heart

“Hello my little train wreck”

I was first introduced to Thea Gilmore by a feminist friend back in 2004.  Since then, she’s become a mainstay of my music collection, turning out tuneful and politically astute albums every couple of years.  She has a lovely, pure voice and a refreshingly unaffected delivery.  Murphy’s Heart is her tenth studio album and I think it stands out alongside Rules for Jokers and Liejacker as one of her strongest, balancing her more upbeat folk and pop songs with her trademark mournful ballads, while retaining the political edge.  The opening track ‘This Town’ is a rousing warning against the dangers of getting stuck in a rut, a sentiment I appreciate as someone who grew up in a town where we firmly believed that if you didn’t get out by the time you were 21, you would never get out.  Then there’s the great tune of ‘God’s Got Nothing on You’ and the soaring chorus of  ‘Due South’.  ‘Love’s the Greatest Instrument’ has this amazing sense of speed and movement and is possibly my favourite track on the album.   ‘Automatic Blue’ and ‘Coffee and Roses’ are classic laments.  ‘You’re on the Radio’ is one her forays into more poppy territory and is OK, but I prefer the more folky sound.  ‘Not Alone’ has a relentless, swirling melody and a great brass accompaniment.  The last three tracks didn’t strike me as being as strong as the rest, but were still pretty good.  Overall, I think this is going to become a favourite.

Also playing this week: Frank Black,  Frank Black and (as Black Francis) Svn Fingers, and Kristin Hersh’s Crooked.