The Big Issue : Edition 531
MUSIC 40 THEBIGISSUE24FEB–9MAR2017 On Dirty Projectors’ eighth album Dave Longstreth, who once would have been referred to as the band’s leader, is now its only member. The departure of the band’s regular personnel, notably Amber Coffman — who provided lead vocals, harmonies and guitar and was Longstreth’s partner — has left him with a single voice to work with: his own. The result is a breakup album of the best kind; it’s meditative, at times nihilistic, other times hopeful, and constantly questioning. Longstreth and Coffman’s relationship is portrayed in novelistic detail on the seven-minute ‘Up in Hudson’, a heartwarming eulogy for the band that once was. Longstreth toys with R’n’B conventions more than ever, strongest on Solange co-write ‘Cool Your Heart’, but falling flat on ‘Death Spiral’. A sought-after collaborator, recently writing, producing and arranging alongside Solange, Kanye West and Joanna Newsom, on Dirty Projectors Longstreth proves himself a compelling, if still searching, solo artist. GREER CLEMENS DIRTY PROJECTORS DIRTY PROJECTORS Fresh off her well-received debut novel Goodwood, Sydney songwriter Holly Throsby has returned with her first solo album in six years. Her dreamy murmur remains, while a rejigged band showcases the ruminative guitar rustlings of Dirty Three’s Mick Turner. It’s an incredibly slow and quiet affair, albeit helped along by mesmerising textures and confessional mantras. Bookended with the hopeful yearning of ‘Aeroplane’ and the more regretful reflections of ‘Seeing You Now’, After a Time showcases thoughtful intimacy above all else. ‘Gardening’ echoes the loving appreciation for local geography found in Throsby’s novel, just as ‘Being Born’ dovetails nicely with the book’s talent for folksy home truths. The dawdling pace might be a challenge for new listeners, but the stunning Mark Kozelek duet ‘What Do You Say?’ and a couple of jauntier tunes lend necessary dynamic variety. It’s as much of a grower as any of Throsby’s other albums, seeming a tad too vague and flighty until the moment when it all crystallises. DOUG WALLEN AFTER A TIME HOLLY THROSBY NEAR THE END of her recent show in Melbourne, PJ Harvey performed To Bring You My Love’s caustic cut ‘Down by the Water’. She did so body bent over, arms outstretched and fingers quivering above her – just as they do in the song’s memorable video. Released in 1995, the clip features Harvey in heav y makeup and a slinky red dress, her slight frame weighed down by a voluminous wig. She once described the get-up as “Joan Crawford on acid”, with the blue eyeshadow and painted lips becoming something of a signature look for Harvey in the mid 90s. Swathed in peacock blue with a mohawk of feathers protruding dramatically above her head, the PJ Harvey who stood before us at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl two decades on, appeared an entirely different creature. Playing sax, rather than guitar, Harvey performed a set weighted towards her most recent records, Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project. Twisting and turning, she led her nine- piece band through a mesmerising set, only briefly detouring into that vast back-catalogue. Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone. Harvey has always marched, without hesitation, away from the past; each consecutive album brings with it an entirely original artistic vision. And while at times during live shows this can be frustrating, it is also the very reason she remains one of music’s most vital voices. And, sometimes catching just a glimpse of the past, no matter how fleeting, is enough to make you fully appreciate the present. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor With their fifth album Little by Little, Melbourne folk-pop duo Sodastream reignite a long-dormant partnership. Indeed, fire is the prevailing theme here, as days burn “like winter” on opener ‘Colouring Iris’, and flames lick the protagonist’s back on ‘Letting Go’. Album centrepiece ‘Moving’ is, in fact, just that. Its strings and harmonica explode in hot paroxysms of grief, as Karl Smith laments his lover holding him for the last time. Smith and Pete Cohen are at their best when they throw caution to the wind. It’s only when they engage in sluggish minimalism that the flames falter, the raging hearth fire reduced to simmering coals. But Little by Little’s closer ‘Saturday’s Ash’ sees Sodastream firing on all cylinders. “ I can see my ghost/He was always close/While the fires burn through/What once was virgin snow,” Smith sings. And so the phoenix rises from the proverbial ashes, battered but soaring still. ROB INGLIS LITTLE BY LITTLE SODASTR EAM CD DOWNLOAD VINYL PJ IS MARCHING AWAY FROM THE PAST.