Friday, 29 October 2010

Lucy and the Wolves

My birthday is long gone and finally the new Richard Thompson CD that I ordered with my birthday money has arrived.  Because it's my birthday I ordered the deluxe version which includes a set of acoustic demos and I'm glad I did because to my mind a band doesn't always add much to Thompson's amazing guitar playing.  I saw him live in Brisbane a few years ago, standing alone on the stage of the Tivoli, and didn't miss the rest of the band for a moment.

I must admit though that the new album is a little patchy, and I'm getting more enjoyment out of the one that arrived earlier, Martha Tilston's Lucy and the Wolves.  I caught on to Tilston when I picked up a copy of Milkmaids and Architects in a second hand shop and couldn't understand how anyone could part with it.  If you've never heard her, listen to this beautiful performance of "Music of the Moon".  Lucy is better, if you need to make that kind of comparison.

It has a quiet, understated backing, based around her acoustic guitar or occasionally piano.  Her voice has the most beautiful timbre of any singer I've heard lately, warm, rich and expressive.  On this album, even more than the last, it hardly rises above a whisper, as if she's sitting next to you talking confidentially.

But what I love most is the songwriting.  I'm a sucker for a love song that says more than just "I love you" and this album is full of them.  She uses little scenes to draw you in - sitting in a restaurant talking to cover the discomfort of passion, passing the stuff at a party and dancing with a man who is mourning his love for Lucy, walking along the Cornish beach and visiting the hidden caves, sitting in the special chair playing a new song.  Each vignette is a tale of joy and passion and unlike Thompson it doesn't always end badly.  Here's some lines from the closer, "Wave Machine":

and when I see you, all the days before
all the truths I swore to lovers I thought I couldn't love more
well now that I've found you all this slides into a stream
I was only paddling
you are the wave machine

There's something spiritual in all this passion and its no surprise that one of the most beautiful songs on the CD is a number called "Who Turns".  Here's a bit of it for you to think about.

Lady Moon, I pull a chair to the window
and wonder what you make of it all.
Down here we've been getting tangled
strangled, snapping at the carrot that's dangled
above our heads so we don't see the fall.
But you just rise each night and case the joint.
Many, many more of us will come.
Last night I dreamt that I was dying
and it was kind of beautiful;
a homecoming to a realm I'd known before.

How long, how many more will come?
How long before we get it right?
Who, who turns the wheel?
And are we all just moons reflecting light?

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