The Big Issue : Edition 557
MUSIC 40 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 9–22 MAR 2018 This visceral collaboration finds avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson answering Kronos Quartet’s reeling, erratic strings with both thorny narratives and unruly electronics. Performed around the world as a prestigious live piece before finally being recorded and released, Landfall is grounded in Anderson’s firsthand experience of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But it’s by no means a straightforward recounting, instead unfolding over 30 genre-less tracks that vary wildly in mood and length. Nevertheless, they form a cohesive whole. The bulk of the tracks are instrumental, which makes Anderson’s monologues all the more powerful when they do arrive. “ I was in a Dutch karaoke bar, trying to sing a song in Korean,” begins one, while ‘Dreams’ borders on stand-up comedy. Most ambitious and eccentric of all is the almost 10-minute centrepiece ‘Nothing Left But Their Names’. These engrossing reveries stubbornly blur the line between gravity and whimsy. DOUG WALLEN LANDFALL LAURIE ANDERSON & KRONOS QUARTET “ This ain’t the cleeeeannnn version!” whoops Justin Timberlake on the opening track of Man of the Woods. The irony is, of course, that this is the clean version; it’s the cleanest record Timberlake has ever produced. Over his career, Timberlake has consistently delivered semi-revolutionary pop music. He once seemed like a visionary talent, the kind of star that comes around once in a blue moon. In hindsight, maybe we were wrong about that. Man of the Woods sounds like Timberlake’s oeuvre re- written without any of the craftsmanship. The album’s early half is where most of the damage lies – from the bizarre, autotune-free trap of ‘Midnight Summer Jam’ to the tinny Migos-lite ‘Supplies’. These songs are insufferably long, barely worthy of a pity listen. The album’s second half fares better, but only because most of the songs, like ‘Breeze Off the Pond’, could reasonably be tuned out if heard at, say, a mall. I was hoping this album would be revolutionary; next time, I’ll be praying for “inof fensive”. SHAAD D’SOUZA MAN OF THE WOODS JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE COURTNEY BARNETT HASN’T lost her way with words. Three years since the release of her acclaimed debut album, the Melbourne singer-songwriter is back with scorching single ‘Nameless, Faceless’. On it, Barnett takes aim at the haters, singling out creeps whose business it is to attack women just like her: successful, strong, outspoken. But this is about more than just internet trolls. This deceptively upbeat grunge- pop anthem is about power and fear. Borrowing a line from The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, Barnett reminds us what is really at stake: “Men are scared that women will laugh at them/I wanna walk through the park in the dark/ Women are scared that men will kill them/I hold my keys between my fingers.” While the song was written just over two years ago, its sentiments echo louder still now. Assisting that echo (quite literally) on backing vocals is Kim Deal (Pixies, The Breeders) who provides some ghostly “oooohs”. According to the liner notes it won’t be Deal’s only appearance on the forthcoming LP, either, with both Kim and her sister Kelley also contributing guitar and voice on the excellently titled ‘Crippling Self- Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence’. Over the past two years Barnett has been forced to navigate a sometimes brutal whirlwind of success. More exposed than ever, she could have shied away from the haters, but on ‘Nameless, Faceless’ Barnett not only meets their gaze, she sticks a middle finger in their face. SARAH SMITH > Music Editor If every artist has a magnum opus, Mia Dyson’s sixth record, If I Said Only So Far I Take It Back, is hers. Over 10 tracks, Dyson – now based in LA – finds strength in softness, subtlety and honesty. She says these songs are about being “open to the world as it is, especially at a time where there’s so much division”. Sometimes that means acknowledging fear’s omnipresence; like on ‘Being Scared’, which concludes, “ there’s no end, to being scared”. It’s an apt line for these times. But the record also embraces brightness and optimism, and ‘Fool’ is an anthem for rallying against negativity. ‘Gambling’ poses the question “Am I willing to gamble with life?” – a question we surely must all answer in order to find meaning. Throughout, there are echoes of Stevie Nicks and Joan Armatrading, but ultimately this is Dyson’s songbook, and an almost perfect one at that. IZZY TOLHURST IF I SAID ONLY SO FAR I TAKE IT BACK M IA DYSON CD DOWNLOAD VINYL NOT SHYING AWAY.