I’ve always been astonished at Thea Gilmore’s work rate, now releasing her 14th album Regardless at the age of just 33. That’s pretty good going by anyone’s reckoning, but when you consider the high standard she always delivers it’s all the more remarkable. The content may have diversified in recent years and the protest themes now exist alongside songs about family and settling down, but fans shouldn’t be worried that this new release is an Alanis Morissette style post natal love in. Being a parent has certainly informed much of the songwriting, it had to, but growing up is met with a reassuring dose of her trademark cynicism.
Having taken two years out from recording following the birth of her second son, there also seems to have been a different approach to the instrumentation this time around. The acoustic guitar driven numbers of yesteryear have given way in part to full, almost cinematic sounding string accompaniments similar to those on her post-humus Sandy Denny collaboration Don’t Stop Singing. In Start As We Go On it’s relatively subtle, in This Is How You Find The Way it’s the driving force. Throughout though, strings have become integral to the sound.
Whether you love or hate the somewhat commercial sheen they have a tendency to create it’s easy to see the reasoning behind this new approach, with Gilmore’s silky vocals undeniably suited to their new accompaniment. However it doesn’t matter in the long run if this is the way of future albums, so far as I’m concerned. As an oriental twang plays alongside her dig at middle class travelers in Spit and Shine you can see a more considered approach to pairing music with lyrics forming. It’s this willingness to experiment, coupled with an innate songwriting ability, that will surely keep her going when lesser artists have long since burnt out.