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Rupert Daviss

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Burning Dorothy
Burning Dorothy

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burning Dorothy - but Thea is on fire!, 28 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Burning Dorothy (Audio CD)
Though Thea Gilmore must tire of references to her young age, never before has a debut album by a singer-songwriter still in their teens resulted in such a mature, eloquent masterpiece. While Burning Dorothy has a more pronounced indie-rock edge than her later work, the "English Alanis" clichés are the result of lazy, sloppy journalism. Venting her spleen with infinitely more depth, intelligence, wit and potency than Morrisette's angsty contrived shock-rock, this album explodes with musical, lyrical and emotional fireworks.
Bundling rock, folk, pop and indie into an intoxicating ball, Thea comes flying out of the start-gates with a pair of menacing songs, stuffed equally with vitriol and guitar hooks. This girl has fire in her belly and wastes no time getting down to business: "Well you can shut up now I'm talking/I am so sick of your one-liner conversation", she rants in "Sugar", apparently addressing an ex-lover, but equally likely to be aimed at the current Music Industry at large.
It is no mean threat. The album powers along on the knife-edge of Thea's acerbic world view, as she sticks two-fingers up at old boyfriends, society at large and anybody else who dares get in her way. But the anger is liberating, and as Nigel Stonier's crunching guitars spark and roar behind her, there is a joy in the strength Thea discovers.
Starting with the post-feminist Militia Sister, the latter-half of the album features more acoustic, folk-punk songs. Bad Idea is a brilliant prickly assertion of independence ("I can do cute with a bite, or angry with a personable side/but they're my only parts"), as the album reaches its an absolute pinnacle with Into The Blue, a haunting, panoramic tune of yearning and devotion.
Strangely (although actually in keeping with Thea's rejection of commercialism), the albums most accessible track is, in fact, physically the least accessible. The spritely and obscenely catchy One Last Fight is smuggled away as an uncredited, un-indexed hidden track. With in Byrdsian chiming guitar, breezy vocal and soaring chorus, the song is a hopeful farewell after the pain and anger elsewhere. Songs that are after an afterthought in Thea's world would be career-conerstones in virtually anyone elses.
Amid all the well-deserved critical praise lauded on her later work, and the fact it has been unavailable for so long, Burning Dorothy often gets criminally overlooked. (Even Thea seemed to have forgetten about it when compiling her recent set-lists!). But like Are You Experienced?, Can't Buy A Thrill or My Aim Is True, Burning Dorothy is an absolutely dazzling debut album. If there is any justice in the world, this album will one day be recognized as one of the lost classics of the '90s. File under "devastatingly brilliant".


18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Avalanche of Brilliant Songs, 19 Aug. 2003
Somewhere between a female Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, but with the voice of an angel (albeit a seriously pissed-off one), Thea Gilmore is currently Britain's best songwriter. And by a good few light years. "Avalanche" is her fifth album, and also her best, with Thea spitting vitriolic gobs of fire at the plasticity of modern culture and the resulting public apathy with fierce directness and an unflinching eye.
Developing the soundscapes of her earlier "St Luke's Summer" and "The Dirt Is Your Lover Now", Thea and producer-extrodinaire Nigel Stonier add a layer of loops and effects to her usual chiming guitars and deceptively catchy tunes. "Pirate Moon" and the haunting title track ring with a sinister, trottled beauty - fluid and graceful, yet shot through with a creeping menace.
"Mainstream", meanwhile, and "Rags & Bones" (probably the best song she's ever written) crackle with a barely-controlled rage, spiky and brutal as Thea goes for the throat. Then, sung in her most delicate, heartbreaking voice, "The Cracks" prophecises a forthcoming armageddon with more unflinching clarity of anything this side of "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall".
This is potent stuff: a landscape where religion is obsolete ("Have You Heard?") and love a precarious thing ("Razor Valentine"); the young are listless and self-obsessed ("Juliet") and the media calculatingly enforce this ("Heads Will Roll").
However, if all this sounds rather depressing (and it is - this is real life, mate), Thea's level of passion, eloquence, anger and commitment mean that the songs are ultimately life-affirming and positive. This is real protest music for the 21st century, not the moany dirges of some jumped-up madam that are endlessly peddled elsewhere.
Indeed, amid the corporate mush that passes for pop-music today (and don't tell me Oasis isn't as carefully packaged as Will Young or Avril Lavigne isn't just Britney holding a guitar), finding such an inspired songwriter with something fundamentally important to say is remarkable. And that she does so with such eloquent lyrics and brilliant melodies is nothing short of miraculous.
"Are you gonna swim the mainstream/or are you gonna make like lightning?" she demands halfway through the album, in a flick-knife voice. But she has already made her decision. And what spellbinding lightning it is. No amount of superlatives do this album justice. Believe me, it's that good.

Juliet [CD 1]
Juliet [CD 1]
Offered by usnap
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain's best songwriter's best single, 5 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Juliet [CD 1] (Audio CD)
"Juliet" is an absolutely storming, cheery Summery pop song that you feel you've known for ages the first time you hear it, but with Thea spitting out her usual barbed, bitter lyrics at the self-pitying little madam in question: "There's something so beautifully chic about burning out so young" she sings in a voice that clearly wants to bite the kid's head off!
The four exclusive tracks are also real gems, particularly "Hooligansville" and "Like Lead" (both on CD2), which I would rate amoung her best songs (why she didn't save them to put on the forthcoming CD is staggering...): "You talk about love like it's something you found on your shoe" she hisses at the beginning of "Like Lead". Exactly.
Absolutely fan-bloody-tastic. Mojo says she's the best female singer-songwriter in the last ten years. Nonsense. Make that the best female singer-songwriter ever. (Sorry, Joni who?)

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