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Sunday 22 April 2012

Polly Plus

Yesterday was Record Store Day. To mark the occasion, here are some records.

The main feature today is Polly Paulusma's new self-released album, "Leaves From The Family Tree", available direct from Polly via her website. She is also about to begin a series of gigs, one of which is in London on 15 May, and I would encourage you to go along if you can.

As regular readers will know, I am not very articulate when it comes to explaining what I like about a record. What follows fails dismally to do justice to the album; the track I have chosen on the other hand ("Blood-Red Coat") sells itself.

The obvious attractions are her voice and her lyrics, which seem to lend themselves to many different interpretatons. For example, I have decided that "Blood-Red Coat" is written from the perspective of a child about to be born. That probably isn't the case at all, and there are many other ways of reading them (one reviewer says the song about the arrival of Spring), which is part of what makes them so good.

The music sounds fairly straightforward at first, but when you listen for a second or third time you pick up things that make it more interesting. On the opening track, "Last Week Me", it is the contrast between the spritely tune and arrangement and the subject matter (bereavement). On "Blood-Red Coat" it is the way the backing vocals get gradually more dischordant - even slightly bonkers - as the song progresses. See for yourselves.

"Blood-Red Coat" - Polly Paulusma

I missed Polly's previous albums, "Scissors in my Pocket" (2004) and "Fingers and Thumbs" (2007), when they first came out, although I am putting that right courtesy of Amazon. But yesterday when I was in a record store - you see, there is a link - I came across a second-hand copy of "Spine Cosmic Rosy Kites". It is described as being "the live/acoustic sibling album to 'Scissors in my Pocket'" (and, as you clever folks will have worked out, an anagram of it as well). I have not heard the "proper" version yet, but this sounds pretty good to me.

"Carry Me Home" - Polly Paulusma

Reinterpreting your own material needs to be done with care, something Phil Everly would have done well to bear in mind when making his 1975 solo album, "Mystic Line". Why on earth did he think remaking one of his old standards in a light reggae style was a good idea? It is nothing like as bad as that disco version of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" by that well-known female vocalist which got me in so much trouble last year, but it isn't good.

"When Will I Be Loved" - Phil Everly

We finish up with a couple of dedications to people celebrating their birthday today or tomorrow. One is Frankie, by some distance the finest publican around these parts. If you find yourself near Victoria Park, pop into The Eleanor Arms and enjoy his Shepherd Neame beers and his eclectic record collection. The other is my dear friend Tracy who is, as the song says, very special.

"You Gotta Have Something In The Bank, Frank" - Frankie Vaughan & The Kaye Sisters

"Very Special" - Debra Laws

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