Thea Gilmore – Counterweight

Album Review by Alan O'Hare | 30 May 2017
Album title: The Counterweight
Artist: Thea Gilmore
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Release date: 2 Jun

Since her first few feral records, Thea Gilmore has settled into a pattern of releasing new music, covers albums and compilations. You can't blame her, if any songwriter of the last 15 years or so deserves more attention, it's the razor sharp Gilmore. Has her edge been blunted after such a long time swimming against the mainstream? 2013's Radio 2-friendly Regardless suggested so – all muted verses, widescreen choruses and big payoffs – and the production and arrangement choices certainly suggested an artist chasing something. The Counterweight is different.

The songs are better. The piano arpeggios, soaring strings and cool couplets ('Let's go to bed or go to war' demands tense opener Fall Together) have all been there before, but here they're joined by McCartney-esque bounce, muted drum machines and an ethereal electronic throb. The Lucky Hum hovers rather than soars, The War is a brilliant ballad without an acoustic guitar in sight and gets the balance just right between folk and tronica, whilst the intrusive percussion of Another Damn Love Song can't stop its snap, crackle and pop.
There are curve balls – Rise sounds like The Lighthouse Family (!); Leatherette like an outtake from Madonna's Ray of Light – but this is business as usual for Gilmore: great lyrics, good melodies and production chasing today's radio. But you can't help feeling there’s still a great album to come from her.
Listen to: The War, Another Damn Love Song