Album review: THEA GILMORE – Ghosts & Graffiti

THEA GILMORE - Ghosts & Graffiti

Full Fill [Release date 11.05.15]

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Thea Gilmore is one of the finest contemporary singer songwriter gracing these fair isles.  In another era she would have packed theatres the length and breadth of the land.  Sadly, in this digital age, those days are gone, but it does mean that if you’re so inclined you can catch a quite wonderful talent ‘up close and personal’.

For the uninitiated, Ghosts & Graffiti offers a ‘taster’ of what’s on offer.  Not a ‘greatest hits’ or a ‘best of’ but a retrospective with a twist – it includes 4 new songs, 2 subtle remixes from Rules For Jokers – ‘Holding Your Hand’ and ‘Juliet’ – a solo re-working of ‘Old Soul’, 8 collaborations with some of those who’ve inspired her, including Joan (Wasser) As Police Woman, Billy Bragg, Joan Baez, The Waterboys, John Cooper Clarke, and King Creosote, and 6 previously released albums tracks/singles.

Any compilation not dictated by chart positions will inevitably spark debate about inclusions and exclusions, but such is the depth of Gilmore’s 13 studio albums that it’s an impossible task.  Put together as a look over the horizon with one eye on the rear view mirror, Ghosts & Graffiti sees Gilmore looking back through lenses, if not rose tinted, then of a far less darker hue.

Now a mother of two small children, and a Radio 2 playlist regular, it’s perhaps of little surprise that her more recent output has been less edgy and acerbic than that of her earlier years when she struggled with self-belief.  As a result Ghosts & Graffiti has a less intense vibe than much of her earlier output.

And with all her releases there’s always one or two absolute gems lurking, in the case of Ghosts & Graffiti, ‘Inch By Inch’ with Joan Baez is the piece de resistance, followed closely by the fresh slant given to ‘Razor Valentine’ is given by I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell’s vocals and Pete McPhail’s sax, and the reworking of ‘This Girl Is Taking Bets’ with Joan Wasser.

It’s hard to say, though, who Ghosts & Graffiti is aimed at.  On the whole, there’s a cohesive feel to the 20 tracks but for those who have followed her career it will be regarded as something of a ‘filler’ between releases.  But the fact it’s her first top 40 album tells you how much her music matters to those alive to her considerable charms.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

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