New Music: Thea Gilmore ‘Start As We Mean To Go On’

Thea Gilmore’s new upcoming single, ‘Start As We Mean To Go On’ will be released through Fullfill on July 15.  The single is the follow up to Gilmore’s Radio 2 A-listed and Single of the Week ‘Love Came Looking For Me’ and the second single to be taken from Gilmore’s 14th album – a Radio 2 Album of the Week and the biggest of her career, her first album to enter the UK Top 40, charting at No.21.
Gilmore is nothing if not prolific but Regardless grew out of an enforced hiatus.  In July 2011 Thea Gilmore gave birth to her second son, literally two days away from completing mixes to her Sandy Denny collaboration Don’t Stop Singing.  The timing could hardly have been better, nor could excitement and anticipation have run higher.  But after serious complications the birth was a traumatic one, and it heralded in an intense and personally devastating few months for the singer-songwriter. Her newborn son’s early months were beset with health issues whilst Gilmore herself entered a period of physical illness followed by a mental descent as post natal depression set in.  Says Gilmore, “I’ve encountered bouts of depression in the past.  But nothing prepared me for the overwhelming nature of this”

Ironically, Gilmore’s stock had seldom been higher – “Don’t Stop Singing” had received plaudits across the board, the single “London” was inescapable on the radio.  But the reality was an exhausting and often crippling battle back to physical and mental health.  After a few months, with a supreme effort and encouragement from family and friends she found the strength to write her first song in well over a year.  Taking in the combination of love, wonder and helplessness a Mother feels watching her children heading out into the world, it set the tone – and set the bar high – for what would become one the most direct, personal collection of songs yet in Gilmores already weighty catalogue.

“When you write as much as I do, it would be easy to get stuck in a rut and end up putting out the same album. This experience helped me relearn what I do”, say Gilmore.  “I once had a conversation with a friend about a female artist who had had kids… he thought the album she released subsequently sounded as if she thought she was the only woman ever to go through the birth experience.  I never wanted Regardless to come across like that. For me, these are songs about being the custodian of somebody, but also about the process of letting go’.

Gilmore and long standing musical partner/producer Nigel Stonier have journeyed into new territories this time around, spending over nine months in a total of five different studios, hooking up with collaborators Seadna Mac Phail (Elbow)  Danish producers The Suppliers (Ron Sexsmith, Martha Wainwright) and string arranger Pete Whitfield (Plan B).   There is a widescreen finish present, and the painstaking process has clearly been worthwhile, resulting in an album that feels like a natural evolution of Gilmore’s song-writing talents and fiercely independent status.  Bigger and glossier, perhaps, but with the hallmarks of Gimore’s best work – glass-sharp lyrics, dark humour, melodies that refuse to leave you and that haunting smoky voice that sets her work apart.

Gilmore’s fans have had the privilege of watching her sensibility and musicianship develop from her first album, Burning Dorothy, released when she was just 19.  Throughout Gilmore has held firmly to her artistic and intellectual integrity, turning down several offers from major labels, keeping creative control of her music and her image, and in recent years taking advantage of the opportunities the digital world offers.  She tours tirelessly, and now takes the children on the road too “Like any working parent, it’s a balancing act,” she says.  “I feel very lucky that I can do both, but there’s always a lot of guilt involved. I think it’s a good learning experience for them, but they do have a fairly lateral take on normality… My older son grew up thinking that hanging out with Mike Scott and Bruce Springsteen, and spending weeks on a tourbus going round the US was just routine pre-school experience.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: