Thea Gilmore - Ghosts &  Graffiti (Fullfill Records) 
Thea Gilmore - Ghosts & Graffiti

Release Date: 18th May 2015

If I was to tell you that the likes of Joan Baez, I Am Kloot, King Kreosote, the Waterboys and Joan As A Police Woman had got together to make an album you'd be understandably intrigued and more than a little impressed. When you learn that all of these artists are actually just guests on the latest long player by the outstanding Thea Gilmore then you might need to sit down and a stiff drink. This is a twenty track beast of an album full of star guests at every turn, old songs, new songs and favourites revised so find yourself a comfy chair with a good view and let's begin.

The album opens with the gentle strum of 'Copper' which eases you in to Gilmore's warm voice and lyrical flexibility before 'Start As We Mean To Go On' steps things up a notch to mirror the poppier moments of the Indigo Girls or Texas. 'This Girl Is Taking Bets' sees the first guest appearance, from the excellent Joan As A Policewoman, and the twangy, blues house guitars channel the likes of Michelle Shocked , Chris Isaac and a more punchy take on George Ezra. There is a real end of the night, after the party has finished feel to 'Holding Your Hand' whilst 'My Voice' features the undeniable talents of Billy Bragg on a more politically charged and spirit rousing tune that Peggy Seeger would be proud of. The mood picks up on 'London', however, as the country tones and lively rhythm tells a tale of not necessarily being homesick but certainly of longing to be somewhere that you're not. We're only six tracks in and already there is more versatility and ingenuity than most modern releases achieve in their entirety - there's even a joke about the time difference between the US and UK. Strong start.

Thea Gilmore - hats off to her!
'Coming Back To You' is probably my favourite track of the album as the infectious violin melody and strong sentiment of love and loyalty get firmly under your skin. 'Love Came Looking For Me' is a slick country-pop romp that leads up to 'Inch By Inch' featuring the legendary Joan Baez, a slow piano based malady that would make even the toughest man or woman shed a tear and think about some deep seated regrets. The halfway point of the album  is 'Glistening Bay' which sees the Waterboys adding a certain grizzly quality to proceedings before the haunting 'Sol Invictus' sees a choir build the power and intensity in a way that only the collective human voice can. The lazy guitar strum of the marvellously monikered 'Razor Valentine' soon gives way to the withering northern vocal of I Am Kloot and a moody saxophone adds a certain underworld charm to affairs.

This is a particularly unique album in that it looks backwards, forwards and brings some past moments in to the present with a bit of a polish up. However, running through the core of the album is excellent musicianship, superb songwriting and clean lines of creativity. 'Old Soul' and 'Live Out Loud' are great examples of the country-folk ability of the lady that this album celebrates while 'Juliet' is the kind of song that makes you want to pack a bag, throw it in the back seat and head off in to the sunset with nothing but a map and a few mix tapes. There is a very different feel to 'Don't Set Foot Over The Railway Track' with a drunk keyboard sound setting the scene for John Cooper Clarke to display his unmistakable spoken word performance poetry. 'Wrong With You' is a sassy tune that has a femme fatale spirit at heart while 'You're The Radio' is more of a US country radio hit that gives people hope and a sense that they're not alone. In the home straight, 'Inverigo' sees Gilmore performing with King Creosote on a slow building ballad before the album closes with the seasonally inaccurate but utterly gorgeous swoon fest of 'That'll Be Christmas. Thea Gilmore is a talent in terms of quantity and quality, there's no denying that, but the really impressive thing is that she has achieved a 17 year career, produced an album almost every year and not once has she compromised on what she wanted to produce or how she wanted it to sound. Superb and humbling.

More information:

Live Dates:

9th May - Town Hall, Birmingham
10th May - Glee Club, Nottingham
12th May - Arts Centre, Pocklington
13th May - Komedia, Brighton
15th May - Sage, Gateshead
16th May - Arts Centre, Bingley
20th May - Town Hall, Cheltenham
22nd May - Pleasance, Edinburgh
23rd May - RNCM, Manchester
25th May - The Stables, Milton Keynes
26th May - The Apex, Bury St Edmunds

27th May - Cadogan Hall, London