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Thea Gilmore & Sandy Denny – Don’t Stop Singing

Jo Cox


I’m afraid this review must start with a note of confession. I have had this album in my CD player, on my iPod, sat on my desk since late October and only now, at the end of December, do I find myself finally writing about it as I had agreed. Procrastination in response to a writing task is nothing new or unique, I’d much rather be pointing a camera at someone than having to critically evaluate their music. In this case, however, lack of response was related to love bordering on obsession. In my defense, at least there is no higher inferred recommendation.

A young Thea Gilmore, listening to the late Sandy Denny in 1980’s rural Oxfordshire, doubtless never imagined she would be singing the songs of this legend some thirty years on, nevermind being asked to work with her previously un-scored lyrics. It does seem, however, as if she were the perfect choice. Whilst recently Gilmore appears to have mellowed, her early albums hint to a sort of kindred melancholy, albeit with Denny’s being differently rooted – career problems, drink problems, family problems. Closing track Georgia is particularly poignant in this respect, a lullaby to a daughter who would never know her mother, recorded by Gilmore just as she herself was due to give birth to a second child.

Don’t be disheartened though that despair and isolation are all that have been unearthed. Whilst ever present there is also a great sense of hope, and whilst tracks such as Long Time Gone and London address alcohol addiction and loneliness, Denny clearly always held on to the notion that tomorrow was a new day with new possibilities. Gilmore takes a similar stance, refusing to fall into the trap of scoring slow paced, depressive songs steeped in darkness. Quite to the contrary in fact.

What makes this album really special though, is Gilmore’s ability to interpret without imitation, making it an offering either artist could be duly proud of.