I confess, there's nothing that irritates me more than fans who greet every album by their favourite artist with "Their best yet!", which often as not merely indicates a lack of objectivity. Even I, as a Thea fan, remarked that her previous studio album. "Liejacker" was "arguably" her best, a cautionary note born out of the knowledge that there were a lot of people who felt it was a little bit too downbeat for their tastes. Fair enough.
Well, with her latest, "Murphy's Heart", I have become what I always dreaded, as this really IS her best yet. There, I've said it and I mean it. It's a big, rich, evocative album of instant and far-reaching appeal that still, for all the fun and variety of styles and influences that can be found here, never loses its integrity. It manages, somehow, to be both hugely enjoyable and immensely moving.
Dig that funky brass on "This Town"!! Clap your hands along to "Love's the Greatest..."!! Enjoy the sleazy, fun stomp of "Teach Me to Be Bad"; feel your heart race to "Not Alone" and then swoon to "How the Love Gets In" (probably one of her most heart-stoppingly beautiful songs). Finally, as you catch your breath, let the last two songs, "Mexico" and "Wondrous Thing" work their magic. They are two slow burners that have grown on me, particularly the latter, which feels for all the world as if belongs in a late Forties film noir, one in which Robert Mitchum enters a little club just south of the border, the camera pans across a smokey room, and the chanteuse in the spotlight is Thea. ("Who's the dame?" "Forget it, Johnny, she's out of your league"). It is one of the few love songs I know of that positively glows with the elegance of romance without descending into sentimentality.
Everything seems to have come together on this album to dazzling effect: Bristling with inventiveness and quirky details, it's just one beautiful, swooning, majestic, breathtaking, haunting album from start to finish. Buy it and be happy.