Brigid Mae Power
"We dont know what multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Brigid Mae Power has been through. As she is a relative newcomer, there are scant biographical pegs on which to hang this extraordinary, reverberating album, so full of feeling: born in London, raised in Galway, spent time in New York. Power is the sole parent of a young son. Shes heard Joni Mitchell and John Fahey too.
The specifics of Powers plot arent essential to the appreciation of this spacious record, recorded in Oregon in the studio of artist/producer Peter Broderick; merely an appreciation of what mantrically strummed guitars, pianos, hovering strings, pump organs and a cupboardful of studio textures can do alongside a startling voice, at once fluttery and steadfast, that has come out the other side of something, touching transcendence on the way.
Whatever went down, the song titles tell of the need for succour received and dispensed. Let Me Hold You Through This finds that pump organ lending wheezing polyphony to a song that sounds like a hymn with a near eastern bent. Theres a hint of PJ Harvey here in the pump organ and in the high notes. Ill have to leave you again, Power promises, but this time Ill make sure youre taken care of well. You wonder, with a shudder, what happened the last time she left.
One of the simpler piano tunes, Looking at You in a Photo, finds Power contrasting her childs smile with her own false one, not fooling him. There were some people around us at the time who werent for us, although they claimed to be, she remembers, her lyrical piano saying as much as her words.
Even more intriguing are the songs that go beyond quietly epic reportage into a kind of otherworldly state, in which Powers own selfhood comes under attack something of an occupational hazard in intense relationships, not least motherhood. I Left Myself for a While opens with the clatter of someone pressing play in a haunted house. Powers voice is wordless for the first few bars, exuding against a heavily strummed guitar. She feels herself watered down, dissociated; she has left herself. On Sometimes, another piano and voice meditation, she wants to collapse into someone else.
Power invokes the elements, either in contrast to internal weather or in sympathy with it. The albums opening track, Its Clearing Now, a folk raga, clocks in at just under eight minutes of lush, simmering emotion. Its clearing now, sings Power.
Much as cats purr to comfort themselves, singer-songwriters often write themselves out of their distress. Their gift to the rest of us is an acknowledgment of internal tsunamis having raged, and the reassurance that the singer is still here to tell the tale."
Kitty Empire, The Observer
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