Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Album Review - There There

by Megan Washington (out now)

Special kind of dreaming
When you sleep with the television on
And with the lights on
And with your clothes on
And with your shoes on

Sometimes there's album titles that you look at and just think, what an absolute load of wank. And then you ask yourself, "who came up with that wankery in the first place?" In Fiona Apple's case, it's all Fiona Apple's fault. Salt 'N Pepa's A Salt With A Deadly Pepa is also a personal hated fave. Most artists don't even bother to pick a title that reflects the album they are offering up. Megan Washington isn't one of them. I couldn't possibly think of a more appropriate title for her sophomore LP than There There. It's a half-hearted pat on the back with a shrug for navigating your way through Washington's not-so private heartbreak. Which is a surprise, right? No, not that she can pick winning album titles. I mean it's a surprise that after hearing previously released singles like the bouncy indie jam and bonafide crowd-pleaser, 'My Heart Is A Wheel' or the effortless, rock-chic number 'Who Are You' that There There is quite the emotional investment. Really though, I should have known better than to be surprised by the ever evolving creative force that is Megan Washington, who's crafted an almost perfect mix of lovelorn-tinged ballads and alt-pop singalong gems. 

Establishing her identity from the start, 'Yellow and Blue' separates Washington from the local contemporaries she could be lumped in with. In this field you could be a Higgins, a Blasko, a Julia Stone or even an Emma Louise. Megan Washington is simply a Megan Washington and she's exquisite in her loneliness. Even that 'bounce' in 'My Heart Is A Wheel', all Preatures-y in the infectiousness of the music can't completely hide away the thought that our leading lady is falling apart at the seams. The 'lonely' factor is compressed into the much more relatable track, 'Limitless'. Let's be honest... there really is, "a certain kind of lonely where you sleep in your jeans." It's one of those Debbie Downer facts that becomes much more digestible in the form of a delicious song like this. Those final oooh's that emerge as everything winds up are the icing on the cake. I think I'm hungry? Enough with the digestive talk. Moving along, 'Begin Again' is a stunning album highlight and our first ballad and a true testament to Washington's songwriting talents. And it's not even the best ballad on the album. That's right, kiddies... more than one ballad on an album in 2014! Hallelujah, praise Yeezus.

Washington wraps up There There with not one, but two more pieces of engrossing piano-led balladry. We go from the tough decision of choosing 'To Or Not Let Go' to a confession of being 'One For Sorrow'. It's like being stabbed in the heart and then that knife is twisted and your heart is pulled out of your body and you're just left standing there like... I die. Alright, I'm exaggerating. 'To Or Not Let Go' is definitely the big heartbreaking moment the album builds up to, but interestingly enough 'One For Sorrow' is one of the rare bright sparks that There There delivers. A final and most welcome reprieve. It's awesome. We were just talking about Megan's songwriting talent and I can't get over how simple, yet incredibly effective these lines are;

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl and
Four for a boy
Five for the young
Six for the old
Seven for a story that never gets told
Eight for the east
Nine for the west
Ten for the worst but all for the best

An absolutely beautiful piece of work that you need to hear for the performance, the music, the words. It's Megan Washington's finest moment on a mighty fine album that sees her grow from the emerging indie ingenue of yesterday to the worldly woman of music she's become. Her heart is a wheel and her heart has a skyline (in a 'look out at over that distant skyline' way, not a 'check out my fully sick Nissan Skyline' way). Her heart is a lot of things and if There There proves anything, it's that Washington's heart is big enough to handle love lost and all the love to come. And I love this album. I'm sure you will as well.

Matt Bond gives There There four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

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