Album Reviews

Tara Angell – Come Down

(Rykodisc) UK release date: 21 February 2005


When Tara Angells sings “I keep my worries to myself, Never make asound,” on The Big One, it strikes me as a remarkable statement. Thiskind of music is based on the confessional angst of the performer. Asinger songwriter who keeps her worries inside is as about as common as anex spice girl with a music career. That Tara Angell chooses to exorcisethose issues on this LP are good news for the listener but must makethis an undoubtedly difficult listen for those who know her well.

Angell is a product of the New York underground this is her debutrelease. She is either a very gifted actress or has crammed a lifetime’sworth of hurt and hard living into short space of time.

Her voice is worn and evocative. The album is damaged and dark. Itwears its broken heart proudly as a totem of wisdom won the hardway.

A quick glance at the song titles revels this isn’t cut from thesame singer songwriter cloth as Dido or Gem. Untrue, TheWorld Will Match Your Pain, You Can’t Say No To Hell, the likely hood ofdisco-lite beats and Bridget Jones soundtrack options seem remote.

The album was completed in one five-day stretch and is wonderfullyproduced by Joseph Arthur. A diverse set of sounds are employed,ranging from the drones and eastern style melodies on Three Times,backward guitars and feedback on Uneven to warmly recorded acoustics on YouCan’t Say No To Hell.

The opening Untrue sets a bleak heavy tone. A lone guitar picks outa skeletal melody, Angell’s voice whispers and then the band crash in.It stirs up in my mind the sprit of the peerless Galaxy 500,early abrasive PJ Harvey or Low at their most desolate.Angell first duets with her own higher vocals, then Joseph Arthur’s lowmumble and finally a higher pitched vocal from Mr Arthur. The four voicesconverge, harmonising blissfully. The title of the track is repeatedand repeated like a chant, an incantation and attempt to salvageredemption from an admittance of guilt.

Bitch Please and Hollow Hope sound like an outtakes from TheRolling Stones circa Exile On Main Street. Fuzzy country rocks struts,dripping with attitude. The lonely still ambience of CowboyJunkies and the later period Velvet Underground coarse throughDon’t Blame Me and Three Times.

When You Find Me has a delayed lyrical punch line. “I am nevergonna love you,” sounds like a put down, a simple rejection until Angelladds “again”. It shifts the emphasis to that of a wounded loverretreating into defiance. The music is a poignant mixture of tremolo organ andaching sonorous guitars. A guitar break corrodes like rust on a weatherbeaten heart. The notes slowly unfold, burning like flames through asummer forest.

The songs may be bleak but they don’t wallow in self-pity. Don’tBlame Me proclaims “Don’t cry for me, I’m not your little girl”. Mr Faithadds “If there has to be a wrong and a right, I’ll be right and youwill be wrong”. Angell is no victim but neither is she a victor. Thebattles have left their scars, the victories mostly pyrrhic. Voices echo andhaunt the record like ex lovers.

Sliver Lining is anything but. “There’s no sliver lining when itcomes to you and me”, the guitars steadily rise, stoking up a storm. Anagging riff sweeps in and out of the mix. The vocals become a blur, awordless expression of pain and loss.

Sometimes Angell’s song writing doesn’t have enough nuances totranscend the ghosts of her record collection. It a little too studied and aone paced to be a classic but despite this Come Down is a debut fullof promise. One to watch out for.


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