Well, I don't know how she does it.
Thea Gilmore started out releasing masterpieces, and since then each successive album just gets better and better. Her reviewers have already exhausted most of the superlatives, but basically Thea is the most commanding, compelling and downright phenomenal songwriter of her generation. And then some. In years to come, this album should be remembered as making all other current singer-songwriters look like the scared kittens they are...hiding behind their psudo-indie posturing crapola, or clinging to their limp faux "no-honestly-I-am-a-folk-singer" marketing, while all the noise they're making sounds just like the rest.
From the churning, goading opening "The Gambler", this album finds Thea at the peak of her incredible powers, spinning-off potent songs like sparks from a Catherine wheel. She moves from "Everybody's Numb"'s laceration of the modern music industry, to the snarling juggernaut of "We Built A Monster, to the harrowing starkness of the drug-addled lovers in "The List", with total mastery and assurance.
Harpo's Ghost is a kaleidoscope of musical styles and roller-coaster emotions; "Red White And Black" is a haunting lullaby spine-tingling modern folk-song lamenting vanishing patriotism; the exhilarating "Call Me Your Darling" is all swirling Hammond and Dylanesque harmonica; "Whistle & Steams" rolls and sighs over a shuffling groove; personal demons are put to rest in "Contessa", a song reminiscent of vintage U2 balladry, with one of Thea's gorgeous melody that is special even by her standards; and finally to the ethereal "Slow Journey", with its angelic backing vocals winding away like smoke through the night sky...
...And then the players all troupe back again for the rousing encoure that is the hidden track, as they pick up their plywood again and learn to sing the blues.
As I say, I don't know how she does it.