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Decent, but not the full Thea
on 3 June 2009
Fans had high hopes for "Harpo's Ghost": the live previews of the songs sounded brilliant and it was with her biggest label yet, building on the slow-burning success of "Avalanche", her previous album. This was going to be THE ONE!
But something, somewhere, went very wrong. The result is curiously disappointing: a hard, glossy production that just doesn't let the ears in, it's like having highly varnished wooden blocks thrown at you, one after another. There was also the question of the strange sequencing: starting with the slow, anthemic "The Gambler" seemed a strange step and there's a definite dip (in this reviewer's opinion) somewhere in the middle as three songs feel as if they segue in and out of each other. The album is topped off with the brilliant, moody and haunting "Slow Journey II", but this in itself is fatally undermined by being handcuffed to a hidden track, the jaunty and upbeat "Play Until the Bottle's Done", a great song in itself but a jarring presence after the sublime fade out of its predecessor. There are some fantastic songs on here, some of Thea's best, but they feel over-processed and over-produced, with an unwelcoming sheen that makes it hard work.
Making it worse was the fact that Sanctuary then found themselves in severe financial straits, and the album itself was lost in the shuffle, underpromoted and overlooked. It wasn't the one, after all, and if any artist deserves "the one", it's Thea.
Fret not, though: "Harpo's Ghost" was a rare mis-step and her next album, "Liejacker", saw her back on top form, while a version of "Everybody's Numb" appears on her live album, "Recorded Delivery", showing the vitality and punch it actually possessed outside of the studio.