Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thalia Zedek Band "Six"

Thalia Zedek Band "Six" (Thrill Jockey)

Thalia Zedek recorded six songs for her sixth major studio album since the temporary dissolution of her previous band Come, so the reason for the album title is obvious. Thalia's songwriting has always burnt an emotional torch that illuminates the darkest places. "Fell So Hard" is a directly personal song, addressing the intensity of feeling in two relationships, her first lover and last lover. "Julie Said" is even heavier, a lament for a dead friend that could almost be a lullaby for graveyard sleep. The mood remains steadfastly downbeat with no noisy finale like her previous album "Via." Since then there's been a change of drummer, but you'd hardly notice. Two tunes dispense with the Band's bass, piano, viola and drums. The instrumental "Midst" and the apocalyptic finale "Afloat" find Thalia alone with her guitar. The gently powerful "Afloat" was written just after Hurricane Sandy's destruction of the New York studio where she recorded "Via" but its lyrical imagery stands as strongly as a metaphor for emotional isolation: "And now we all know how far we can float, And now we're all islands." Since recording the album, Thalia's performed a full band version, but the fact that this solo rendition is the album's highlight shows just how superlative her songs are. David Michael Curry's viola and Mel Lederman's piano always accentuate the melancholy, but Thalia can easily stand alone. In the past she's covered Bob Dylan and Lou Reed songs, but unlike them she's never released anything remotely forgettable. There's a cover song here too, Freakwater's "Flathand," and it comes as no surprise that it's the weakest track. The only genuine negative criticism that could be levelled is over brevity; "Flathand" is an older recording so perhaps it would have been cool to have included "Searchlight" from a now out of print Australian tour CDR and her cover of the Animals "House of the Rising Sun." But then "Six" would not have been six songs.    

This review appears in the first issue of "Que Vida."

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