Saturday, October 28th, 2006
Days Of Grace
My love affair with Tanya Donelly is coming up on 13 years old now, way back to the days of Belly and Star, though I am on the record as being a much bigger fan of King and firmly believe that if you’ve not heard it, a better $1 bargain bin purchase you’ll not make.
Since Belly dissolved in 1997, Donelly has carved out a solid if intermittent solo career. Her debut Lovesongs For Underdogs kept mostly in the whimsical power pop character of her previous band, but starting with 2002’s Beautysleep (the five year delay on account of having a baby), she began treading in more, for lack of a better term, “grown up” terrain. Songs were slower and less giddy, but richer and more sophisticated – I say it remains the best of her solo works. The follow-up, Whiskey Tango Ghosts, was a much quieter and intimate record. Still beautiful-sounding, I don’t think anything Tanya sings on could be anything less, but definitely more of an “in the mood” record.
But while that record reflected Tanya’s quieter side, her musical extrovert had hardly retired. Shortly after releasing Whiskey Tango Ghosts in August of 2004, Tanya and band convened in a hotel in Vermont and in front of a live audience, recorded an album of mostly new songs which have now seen release as This Hungry Life. Over the course of 10 songs, Tanya pulls all points and sounds of her past decade together into what could be considered a definitive document of her solo career. It contains sprightly pop numbers like the opener “New England”, revisits the Beautysleep-era “Days Of Grace” (far too good to have been relegated as a b-side on the Sleepwalk EP) and proves that mom-rock can be a wonderful thing with “Littlewing”, a fable for her daughter that perfectly utilizes Tanya’s gift for darkish fairy tale lyricism.
The great vibe that must have pervaded the two-night recording session/show is well-captured on album, the band sounding terrific and energized. The country undercurrent that’s always been present to some degree in her work is also brought to the fore with the liberal use of pedal steel and violin, complimenting the music and Tanya’s voice wonderfully. While the wait between releases can be frustrating – and with the birth of her second child earlier this year, it’s hard to believe she’ll become more prolific – new music from Tanya Donelly is always a gift to be treasured.
Die Young Stay Pretty has an interview with Tanya covering the whole of her hungry life from Throwing Muses through to present day and Bradley’s Almanac has the audio from an in-store in Boston last week to celebrate the album’s release as well as a slew of other Tanya-related linkage. Also check out Hello Gina for some Tanya love and some nice demos of indeterminate era. For my part, I’ve dug up a three-song set Tanya recorded for the BBC in February of 2002, circa Beautysleep as well as an old Burritos-era Gram Parsons track that Belly recorded as a b-side well over a decade ago. And a couple videos for good measure.
MP3: Tanya Donelly – “Keeping You” (Live @ The BBC, February 26, 2002)
MP3: Tanya Donelly – “The Storm” (Live @ The BBC, February 26, 2002)
MP3: Tanya Donelly – “After Your Party” (Live @ The BBC, February 26, 2002)
MP3: Belly – “Hot Burrito No 1”
Video: Tanya Donelly – “Keeping You” (YouTube)
Video: Belly – “Now They’ll Sleep” (YouTube)
MySpace: Tanya Donelly
Death Cab tells The Toronto Sun they’ve got something special up their sleeves for their Hallowe’en show at Massey Hall on Tuesday. If you have tickets for Monday’s show, well you’re just SOL. Ben Gibbard also talks to Hour.ca and Ted Leo, who opens both shows, gives Paste a sneak preview of his new album, due out next March. Ish.
Brainwashed has assembled a nice bideo feature on Mojave 3 combining an interview with Neil Halstead with videos from throughout the band’s career and live footage of the North American tour which ends tonight in Nashville.