her history of alcohol abuse, band and relationship
break-ups and at least one reported breakdown, it was
inevitable that former Catatonia wailer Cerys Matthews
would end up in country music.
Recorded in Nashville with musicians who have worked
with Emmylou Harris and Wilco and a producer (Bobby
Buck) who has played with Bob Dylan, Cockahoop is a
long way from Britpop. The production is painstaking
and the mood, perhaps surprisingly, is very up, although
the opening cover of Hugh Cornwell/Roger Cook's booze
anthem Chardonnay perhaps disturbingly so in its delirium.
Elsewhere, songs provided by the Handsome Family and
old Louisiana tradition nestle up against Matthews's
own compositions. The soul/Faces - tinged If You're
Lookin' For Love sounds giddily love struck; Sweet Gravity
is charmingly childlike and Only a Fool positively sozzled.
The big drawback, though, is Matthews's voice. Cords
now more shot to pieces than ever, she sounds beautifully
ravaged on the slow numbers but struggles with any rising
tempos. Not so much back with a bang as with a croak.
come from Tuva, out on the borders of Siberia and western
Mongolia. They dress like throw-backs to the hippy psychedelic
era, and create some of the most extraordinary noises
on the planet.
Albert Kuvezin is an exponent of the local style of
throat-singing, which allows the performer to hold more
than one note at once while producing surely the deepest
growls on record.
is also a guitarist who likes to switch between gentle
acoustic passages and frantic electric solos, and he
leads a band that also includes such traditional Tuvan
stringed instruments as the igil.
The resulting songs are gloriously exhilarating when
Albert gets the balance right, but that's not always
the case here.
His band is at its best treating Tuva's gutsy traditional
songs to the trademark blend of wild rhythm and growls,
but less interesting when they turn to Kuvezin's own
These range from exuberant growled rockers like Come
Along to slow growled ballads, all with lyrics in English
and sounding as if he is desperate to join the western
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