This week in new music: a 34-track solo Tracey Thorn retrospective, Dave Gahan comes over all gospel on his second collaboration with Soulsavers, Gun Outfit go on an indie rock road trip through bluegrass country and Here We Go Magic channel John Cale and – apparently – Brian Eno on album number four.
Tracey Thorn – Solo: Songs and Collaborations 1982-2015
With sporadic solo work – 1982’s A Distant Shore was promptly followed by Out of the Woods in 2007 – and legendary output with the sadly defunct Everything But The Girl, Tracey Thorn (above) has forged for herself a position as one of England’s best songwriters and performers in a career that has spanned 35 years.
This collection of 34 tracks includes songs from her entire solo career including the stunning 2012 Christmas album Tinsel and Lights, her work with Massive Attack, the Style Council and Hot Chip, as well as a selection of her always perfectly chosen covers (most recently Kate Bush b-side “Under the Ivy”).
An essential collection for fans obviously, but also a perfect introduction to a “half wallflower, half freedom fighter,” as described by husband and fellow EBTG Ben Watt.
Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Angels & Ghosts
With a career spanning more than thirty years – all the more impressive given their expected demise following the departure of Vince Clarke in 1981 – Depeche Mode have become if nothing else a dependable voice in electronic(ish) music.
Lead vocalist Dave Gahan has in that time been happy enough to give voice to other people’s songs with some forays into solo work (2003’s Paper Monsters and 2007’s Hourglass).
His latest effort and his second with Soulsavers marks a change of direction for Gahan and a welcome one at that.
On paper Dave Gahan doing something verging on gospel rock – complete with choirs sent from heaven – may seem at best ridiculous but in reality Angels & Ghosts is an excellent collaboration perfect for him to tear through with gusto.
Gun Outfit – Dream All Over
On album number four, massively underrated Los Angeles-based indie rock act Gun Outfit have perhaps reached pay dirt with a collection of songs that could well put you in mind of Yo La Tengo on a road trip through Alabama.
If the very idea of Tom Petty via touches of bluegrass and echoing sitar makes you ill, Dream All Over might be a stretch too far into the outreaches of indie but repeated listening is recommended to appreciate the delicacy of a collection that takes in references to the Velvet Underground, The American Analog Set and many more.
Here We Go Magic – Be Small
On album number four – and their first since 2012 Nigel Goodrich collaboration A Different Trip – Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic has been pared back to core duo Luke Temple and Michael Bloch for a collection of self-produced tracks “inspired by Brian Eno and John Cale’s Wrong Way Up and Robert Wyatt’s Shleep.”
Not being familiar with either, I can’t comment on that. However, if it’s John Cale they want to emulate it’s possible they were listening to 2003’s Hobosapiens.
Despite their protestations of a new approach, in reality Be Small skips over A Different Trip, hearkening back to their earlier work on The January EP and Pigeons.
It’s a relentlessly bubbly affair with “overtly major and optimistic” songs best heard in lead track “Falling.”