|Sarah Gillespie — Glory Days |
Sarah Gillespie — Glory Days
♦♦ A glorious assault on failing love.
♦♦ She is known for combining poetic lyrics with folk, blues and jazz and for writing songs that explore and satire numerous political themes.
♦♦ 'Glory Days.. her best mix yet of hooky tunes and smart lyrics'. — MOJO ★★★★
Location: London ~ Norfolk ~ Minnesota ~ London, UK
Album release: June 3, 2013
Record Label: Pastiche Records (PR13004)
01. Postcards To Outer Space (4:50)
02. Glory Days (5:14)
03. Sugar Sugar (3:38)
04. Oh Mary (4:52)
05. Signal Failure (3:51)
06. The Bees & The Sea (5:10)
07. The Soldier Song (4:53)
08. Babies & All That Shit (3:27)
09. St. James Infirmary (4:46)
♦ All songs by Sarah Gillespie except St. James Infirmary (trad.)
♦ Produced by Gilad Atzmon
♦ Sarah Gillespie — vocals & guitar
♦ Gilad Atzmon — accordion, clarinet, Wurlitzer, saxophones, mini piano and electric guitar (on Babies and All That Shit)
♦ Ben Bastin — double bass
♦ Enzo Zirilli — drums, percussion
♦ Kit Downes — piano (on Glory Days and The Soldier Song)
♦ Marcus Bates — french horn
♦ Gillespie composes her material on the guitar. She cites her main influences as Tom Waits, Cole Porter, Bob Dylan early blues and jazz, poets T. S. Eliot and James Tate and the 1950s Beat Poetry movement. Her style has been described as 'mixing folk, jazz and middle eastern blues' with an emphasis on the lyrical content and delivery. The Guardian's jazz critic John Fordham writes "Gillespie, who joins Bob Dylan's lyrical bite and languid delivery to the forthrightness of Joni Mitchell, with a little rap-like percussiveness thrown in, is an original." Robert Shore of London's Metro points to "her Beat-like verbal collages ('Cinnamon ginseng bootleg bourbon Calvados Berlin') and beautifully controlled associative word strings, all delivered with her distinctive vocal mixture of dark romanticism and punkish attitude".
♦ Gillespie's compositions with Gilad Atzmon, Houdini of the Heart and Cinematic Nectar have been described by nemurous critiques as Kurt Weillian, while Atzmon's Arabic-infused harmonies on clarinet and saxophone add middle eastern jazz elements.
♦ Stalking Juliet — 2009 (Egea)
♦ How The Mighty Fall — single, 2009 (Egea)
♦ In The Current Climate — 2011 (Pastiche Records)
♦ The War on Trevor — 2012 (Pastiche Records)
♦ Glory Days — 2013 (Pastiche Records)
Tim Stokes; Friday, 02 August 2013; Rating: ★★★★★★★★
♦♦ Love. It can be a tricky thing. Certainly it appears for Sarah Gillespie. “Your love was like digesting dynamite,” she snarls upon new album ‘Glory Days’. “It’s hard loving a man who thinks monogamy is a type of wood,” she crows elsewhere. From this latest release, it certainly appears this Anglo-American singer songwriter has been rather unfortunate in finding a man.
♦♦ Across her previous two albums, Sarah Gillespie has built a reputation as a songstress with an incredible way with words. ‘Glory Days’ only enhances this standing. ♦♦ Lyrical gems that ridicule the modern age and fire stinging blows against former lovers are plentiful throughout. They are also delivered with Gillespie’s unique style, a sassy fusion of folk, blues, and most predominately jazz.
♦♦ Throughout ‘Glory Days’, Gillespie reaffirms her song writing ability across various styles and genres. Opener ‘Postcards To Outer Space’ demonstrates her excellent craftsmanship of building beautiful changing melodies against the stark background of a single yet intricate acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, ‘St James Infirmary’ shows she’s just as comfortable playing blues with a full backing band. The highlight though is when she returns to jazz. ‘Babies And All That Shit’ is a hilarious assault on another former lover with brash brass lines and a brilliant hook.
♦♦ While her love life may have seen better times, in terms of song writing these are definitely glory days for Sarah Gillespie.
Reviewed by: Ian Mann; Monday, June 24, 2013; Rating: ★★★★
♦♦ I remember being blown away by Sarah Gillespie’s first album “Stalking Juliet” on its release in 2008. The record introduced Gillespie’s powerful and literate songwriting presence on a set featuring the colourful and exotic arrangements of multi instrumentalist Gilad Atzmon. It was a stunning début that rightly attracted a high degree of critical acclaim.
♦♦ Atzmon also played on and produced that first album and at the time there was something of a feeling that Gillespie was merely an Atzmon clone. However the follow up “In The Current Climate” (2011) saw Atzmon taking something of a step back as Gillespie began to assert herself with her own acoustic guitar playing a more prominent part in the arrangements. Although less obviously “produced” than the début “Current Climate” proved to be a worthy successor with Gillespie delivering another batch of highly poetic songs that have attracted comparisons with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Besides these literate songwriters the works of the Beat Poets are another acknowledged influence on Gillespie’s writing.
♦♦ Gillespie’s songs have always embraced both the personal and the political with the conceptual EP “The War On Trevor” (2012) presenting a sharply observed and often humorous look at the politics of state surveillance in the modern era. “Trevor” was arguably something of a stop gap but 2013 sees the release of the eagerly awaited third full length album “Glory Days”. Although Atzmon is still in the producer’s chair and contributes reeds, accordion, keyboards and electric guitar the process that began on “Current Climate” continues with Gillespie’s own guitar becoming even more of a central presence. Gillespie’s long serving rhythm team of bassist Ben Bastin and drummer Enzo Zirilli remain on board and there are two superb cameos from pianist Kit Downes who played a number of gigs with Gillespie in summer 2012 including a brilliant performance at Brecon Jazz Festival. Marcus Bates adds a little French horn to the mix.
♦♦ The emergence of Gillespie the musician is perhaps best exemplified by “Postcards To Outer Space”, the opening track on the new album and a performance for voice and acoustic guitar only.Gillespie’s distinctive voice is as strong as ever but her Joni Mitchell style guitar picking is also excellent. The piece is a love song of sorts, full of typically arresting, dramatic and poetic imagery. Like Dylan Gillespie’s lyrics lend themselves to different interpretations but they’re never less than interesting and are unfailingly filled with exotic, poetic imagery, a mix of the tough and the tender, streetwise yet literate.
♦♦ “Glory Days” (no relation to the Bruce Springsteen song) is Gillespie’s dedication to her late mother Susan Ann Broyden. The lyrics are enigmatic, full of mysterious imagery that suggest that Sarah’s mum was a “bit of a character”, a wild child who passed on her literary leanings to her daughter. With its driving rhythms and arresting chorus - “We can’t erase our Glory Days” - this is a fine slice of intelligent pop music. ♦♦ This time the arrangement is wide screen featuring accordion and French horn and with a delightful cameo from Downs, his piano taking flight on the climax of the song.
“Sugar Sugar” (mercifully no relation to the Archies) is another example of Gillespie’s ability to combine evocative lyrics with pop melody and boasts another fine band arrangement with Gillespie’s guitar prominent in the mix.
♦♦ “Oh Mary” is a second song for Gillespie’s voice and guitar only, the lyrics have something of the economy of a haiku and are all the more effective for their apparent simplicity. Meanwhile the furiously strummed solo guitar passage between verses four and five leaves the listener in no doubt as to Gillespie’s instrumental abilities.
♦♦ The song “Signal Failure” initially appeared on the “War On Trevor” EP. Although the four songs on “Trevor” are interlinked it was immediately clear that this piece was strong enough to stand on its own. Indeed Gillespie chose to perform it solo on a recent transmission of BBC Radio 4’s “Loose Ends” programme. Gillespie describes it as being about “romantic jealousy in the age of the smart phone”. The tune is a twisted waltz with deliciously barbed lyrics that combine humour and savagery. Appearing here in a slightly different arrangement to its previous recorded incarnation it’s one of Gillespie’s catchiest tunes.
♦♦ “The Bees And The Sea” is classic Gillespie, full of exotic, sensual imagery and a colourful arrangement featuring Atzmon on both accordion and reeds and with alternately sensitive/driving rhythm work from Bastin and Zirilli.
♦♦ Gillespie’s writing has always had a political dimension and she sings “The Soldier Song” from the point of view of a potential combatant serving abroad. The song was inspired by Gillespie’s encounter with an unemployed young man who felt that joining the forces was his only way of gaining meaningful paid employment. Ironically this meeting was at a Peace Festival. The song itself has the immediate, visceral impact of the best folk music with Gillespie’s powerful vocal leaving the listener in no doubt as to where her sympathies lie. There’s a desperate humour in the memorable lines “I wish I was a soldier, a bag upon my back, far away, dying to get back”. Downs’ piano enhances the arrangement.
♦♦ After the heavy stuff Gillespie injects an element of humour on the rollicking “Babies And All That Shit”. Again there are some great one liners including the frequently quoted “it’s hard loving a man who thinks monogamy is a piece of wood” and “you need some hooker in the background and I don’t mean John Lee”. Musically it’s a romp, terrific fun.
♦♦ Gillespie has always had a fondness for vintage jazz and blues and a terrific version of Jimmy Cox’s 1923 classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” has long been an integral part of her live performances, often described as “the original recession song”.
♦♦ Now it looks as if that might be succeeded by “St. James Infirmary Blues”, a song so old it’s described as “Traditional”. I love this version with Gillespie’s languidly drawling vocal alongside Bastin’s bowed bass, Zirilli’s colourful percussion and Atzmon’s klezmer meets New Orleans style clarinet.
♦♦ “Glory Days” reveals Gillespie’s song writing to be as sharp and astute as ever and her poetic muse undimmed. It also charts her rise to prominence as an instrumentalist, there’s more of a “singer songwriter” feel to this album than the two previous releases. ♦♦ She’s a not a jazz performer per se despite her frequent appearances at jazz clubs and festivals and notwithstanding the title of this site I think her music is all the better for that. It’s still a surprise to me that a songwriter and vocalist with this amount of talent isn’t better known, maybe it’s actually time for Gillespie to distance herself from the “jazz ghetto”, her music may not be exactly mainstream but it’s still capable of considerable cross genre appeal.
♦♦ Gillespie is also a hugely accomplished live performer. I’ve seen her play several times in quartets with Atzmon and Downs and more recently in a trio setting with Bastin and Zirilli. I’ve watched her grow in confidence over the years as Atzmon has deliberately taken a step back. In the pared down trio format her guitar playing is given greater prominence and it’s a tribute to the quality of her songs that they convince in any setting. The live shows are peppered with muso humour and political comment but it’s the power of Gillespie’s voice and of her songs that make her concert and club appearances so memorable. “Glory Days” reveals Gillespie's song writing to be as sharp and astute as ever and her poetic muse undimmed. (http://www.thejazzmann.com/)
Agent: Clive @ Time & Talent 07986420811
♦♦ Une présence beaucoup plus effacée de Gilad Atzmon dans ce troisième album de Sarah Gillespie. Un côté moins jazzy que pour les deux précédents et nettement plus folk. Ce qui n'enlève rien au talent de cette singer-songriter. Recommandé.
John Fordham; Score: ★★★
♦♦ The Guardian, Thursday 27 June 2013 23.15 BST; © http://www.theguardian.com/
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© AMAZON.COM: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glory-Days-Sarah-Gillespie/dp/B00C9CILMQ/ref=pd_bxgy_m_h__img_z
♦ Sarah works in oil, acrylic, collage, conte and ink, mainly on large canvasses but also on reclaimed wood and paper. As a student she focussed on figurative work but more recently developed a passion for abstract expressionism. She has been exhibited in small galleries in London and the US and sells her work privately.
|Sarah Gillespie — Glory Days |