Release Date: Jun 2, 2017
Record label: Cooking Vinyl Records
Singer and songwriter Thea Gilmore has said that she considers her 16th studio album, The Counterweight, to be a companion piece to her 2003 breakthrough, Avalanche. While that album was written in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, 2017's The Counterweight addresses some of the political instability and acts of violence in a volatile 2016. "Johnny Gets a Gun," for instance, is a response to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Few singer-songwriters in the modern folk firmament are as eloquent and articulate as Oxford-born Gilmore, and The Counterweight can lay claim to being her most perfectly realised album since her 2003 breakthrough Avalanche. What's especially remarkable is that the collection's two most powerful and affecting songs came to her relatively late during sessions last year. Britain voting to leave the EU coincided with Gilmore working on Reconcile, a keen-eyed study of the rapid changes in the social and political climate, its scattergun observations weaving a sombre tapestry ("a mortgage for your coffee, but it's OK 'cause your tunes are free").
Since her first few feral records, Thea Gilmore has settled into a pattern of releasing new music, covers albums and compilations. You can't blame her, if any songwriter of the last 15 years or so deserves more attention, it's the razor sharp Gilmore. Has her edge been blunted after such a long time swimming against the mainstream? 2013's Radio 2-friendly Regardless suggested so - all muted verses, widescreen choruses and big payoffs - and the production and arrangement choices certainly suggested an artist chasing something.