Release Date: Aug 19, 2016
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Another prime mover from the late 80s US alt scene faces down middle age with with fire in her belly and her creativity undimmed. Zedek remains best known for her work with Boston's Come, and while their legacy doesn't quite reflect their unique and often unsettling dismantling of indie rock forms, the band's former frontwoman has remained active since their split over a decade ago. Eve is a collection of upfront confessionals that fuses guitar, bass and drums into a hellfire brew.
The Upshot: Explorations of loss, isolation and alienation that leave emotional marks in their wake. It’s not as bleak as it may sound, though—there is freedom and catharsis in the acceptance of those human traits. Readers and musicians alike recoil when the word “formula” finds its way into a review, the implication being that the musician has abdicated their creative role to rely on well-worn tropes—either of their own making or (worse yet) another’s.
The older you get, the more trust becomes important as a listener. As the artists you grew up with grow up with you, you come back to them and hear their growth, hear the changing cadence of what they play, the increased slump in the shoulders, the sharper jut of the jaw. You also hear all the things you love to hear from them, their personality, like an old friend.
Thalia Zedek is a lifer: a familiar face, vital voice, and visceral presence in the US indie-rock underground for as long as most of us can remember. Boston — where she arrived in 1979 and returned for keeps some years later — has been aware of her since her early combo Dangerous Birds scored a couple of earworm-catchy local hits. The world caught up when Zedek fronted Live Skull, a sort of “Sonic Youth With the Good Gear” that absorbed and amplified her dark charisma, then formed Come, her urban-blues apotheosis with fellow guitarist Chris Brokaw.
Thalia Zedek Band—Eve (Thrill Jockey)Low, strong, rough, cracking with emotion, yet even so suggesting a bottomless store of feeling held in reserve, Thalia Zedek’s voice is a force of nature. It’s the kind of voice that could imbue a nursery rhyme with tragic undertow, a voice for storms, shipwrecks, natural and man-made disasters. She’s used it towards these ends before, as in “Do You Remember,” off 2009’s Liars & Prayers which told a story about Zedek’s arrival on in New York City as the World Trade Towers fell.
Since 2001’s still impressive Been Here And Gone began her solo journey, after preceding pioneering years in Dangerous Birds, Uzi, Live Skull and – of course – Come, Thalia Zedek hasn’t made records with ease of listening as the priority. At the heart of them all has been her fusion of indefectible gutsiness and unbreakable yearning that is inscrutably important but not always straightforward to love. Zedek’s position almost has a skewed kinship to the infamous quote about Leonard Cohen circa 1984’s Various Positions, from a bemused record label executive; “We know you’re great, but we don’t know if you’re any good.