TTS: Initial Review (I was mostly wrong, but kind of got it)
Not that you need two reviews from little ol' me, but I need to put both down as this one sat in the draft bin for a month and needed revisited because I figured out a lot about the album in that time and I want to put down what that was for my own sake.
Tall Tall Shadows is an album that strikes me as having a command over one's awareness. The previous album, Heart of My Own, seemed to be more about calling out turmoil and coping. Her work seems to seethe with a confidence and a beautiful kind of pride.
- The album could have been engineered better, and there are parts that are over-produced in a distracting kind of way; I love "The City with No Rivers" but some portions of the song are really hard to get past
- "Someone" is another stand out track that makes a fitting comparison where she's really dark and the simplicity of the electric piano and the trailing string work really fit amazingly
- Obviously "Tall Tall Shadow" deserves every 4.05 minutes it gets played
- I am looking forward to many many more listens of this album (10 so far today).
The big takeaway seems to be that Ms. Bulat has put together an intriguing and complex album. "Never Let Me Go" and "Paris or Amsterdam" seem to have so much gated content that it's difficult to really understand. Much of it seems to be saying stay away. I found her previous work easier, more complete. But I don't mean that as a criticism of her most recent work. Its incompleteness, its questions unanswered, its hanging perpositions seem to leave a critical mark.
The album opens "Be true or be gone." I think that the album holds to that very well through the last chord. She appears to be ruthlessly constrained to delivering very tersely punctuated stories and admonitions, her reflections seem to taper off and leave out the crucial 'not' or leave entire songs to ambiguity ("Never let me go" has zero resolution; I may be incredibly dense but I can't decipher if she actually wants to be let go, or not).
The reason it feels like command of awareness, is that this seems to have every uncertainty filtered out. Every complete sentence that had some component of doubt has had its completeness stricken. It feels like an entire songbook was compiled, then she struck every line that flourished a little too long, or resolved something too precipitously. It leaves the listener wondering what happened, seeking closure; when she declares her "Promise not to think about Love", there's no why, no who, no justification; only what's certain - that she won't.
This kind of honesty is not readily available. Normally writing keeps or even makes things tidy. Normally writing and singing and songs wrap it all up; they take their 3 minute stage, address the audience, tell their story, and it's a wrap. It's so easy. This album seems to reach into the core of what it's like to begin to see the long reach of . There seems to be a hostility to this lack of allowing a song to mature.
The simple claims that she does make are in unmistakable tones and ways; "It can't be you". There is a [charango?] build up; a verse 1, verse 2, vocalization, verse 1 structure, vocalization. Verse one features a "she" and is delivered softly, then verse 2 features a "me" and is delivered sadly. Then there is a vocalization, that acts like some kind of emotional reinforcement arriving on the scene, because when she comes back for the second verse 1, featuring "me", there is a sardonic and final tone. Verse 2 feels complete. The previous albums may have cut it off there. This album takes it to the true resolutions where they exist and delivers them with a brutal honesty.
The album *is * brilliant. But I can't tell why.