CD review: Sarah Gillespie with Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon and Sarah Gillespie on the road

In The Current Climate
(Pastiche Records PR00001)

We are familiar with the strong artistic character and singular voice of reeds player Gilad Atzmon, and he makes fine music under his own name; singer, songwriter and guitarist Sarah Gillespie could have made some pretty fine music on her own, but close collaboration with Atzmon sets off her talents just tickety boo.

With Atzmon not only on saxophone but also clarinet and accordion, Ben Bastin on double bass and Enzo Zirilli on drums, Gillespie presents ten songs which might be about love and relationships, the conventional subject matter for singer-songwriters, but use a far wider range of imagery than we are accustomed to.

The personal life and the socio-political one are blended with references to everything from the Dow Jones and the Hang Index to John the Baptist and Zeus. For How The West Was Won, Gillespie sings an imaginary first person song of Shaker Aamer, the remaining British prisoner in Camp X-Ray.

If all that makes the lyrics sound very serious, be reassured they are filled with word-play and wit: Cinematic Nectar contains the tongue-twisting line “Add your hubris, my hooplas, our hullabaloo…”

And the music is equally witty, slipping a little Flight Of The Bumblebee quote into the title track and elsewhere mixing middle-eastern blues swirls of clarinet with sea-shanty accordion. The underlying pulse is punchy and Gillespie’s own acoustic guitar playing has flair and funkiness.

There are singer/songwriters who give their music a jazz varnish to make it sound more sophisticated. Gillespie, with Atzmon’s assistance, builds a fresher and much stronger kind of music that integrates fully the modern folk-rock basis of the song-form with the energy and improvisational elements of jazz.

To find out how all this sounds live, look out for the band in your neck of the woods pretty soon. Sarah is already engaged on a lengthy concert tour, and she comes to The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, on Saturday (book on 01952 728911). From there, it’s Abergavenny, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Gartly, Angus and Banchory in Scotland, Halifax, Bracknell, Basingstoke and many more.

To find out more about Sarah Gillespie, what she sounds like, where she is playing, what she paints, her writings both poetry and political, go here.

 



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