If Oxfordshire singer/songwriter Thea Gilmore is looking to move away from her folk persona then she is doing it in fine style with her new album Regardless. If you asked the average Joe in the street which genre to place her 14th album into it would be surprising to hear anyone say folk. It is very commercial sounding, very rock and strangely enough very retro with certain tracks having a flavour of the 80s – early 90s.
This said even with Gilmore being out of the mainstream for a while she has lost none of her talent for sharp lyrics and catchy beats. Opening with Something To Sing About Gilmore’s rapid fire lyrics keep up a pretty sharp tempo whilst the following track This Is How You Find Me with its classical-style opening, another of those evocative 80s sounds, is not one to showcase Gilmore’s clear voice at its best.
The title track of the album is a pretty good ballad with a strong under-beat but sounds like something The Corrs recorded in the early 90s when Irish music became synonymous with Riverdance. One of the more interesting tracks on the album is Spit and Shine which wouldn’t be out of place on Paul Simon’s Graceland, it has the African undertone and Gilmore does what she does best with sharp lyrics and precision singing.
I Will Not Disappoint You is one of several soft ballads along with Punctuation and This Road and is probably as close to a folk song as any of the tracks get on the album, it is a pleasant and thoughtful piece beautifully accentuated by the backing of the strings section. In between there are the heavier beat sounds of Start As You Mean To Go On which has a very American MOR rock feel to it and stands a good chance of being successful across the pond, same applies to Love Came Looking for me which has more than a little resemblance to several Pat Benatar songs, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps the most thoughtful of the tracks is Let It Be Known a racier ballad which has the clever lyrics so typically associated with Gilmore. The final track My Friend Goodbye is arguably the best track on the album in which you can really get to grips with the quality of Gilmore’s voice. It’s an emotional ballad with just a smidgeon of country in it.
Regardless has already been picked up by Radio 2 as it’s album of the week and is no doubt destined for big things, Gilmore is a consummate performer with a really rich voice but it’s probably not going to be a great hit as a “folk album”.
Regardless is out now on the Fullfill label and for more information visit www.theagilmore.net
Review by: Danny Farragher