Mary Coughlan “The House of Ill Repute”

I have not yet bought Mary Coughlan‘s latest album The House of Ill Repute , but now that I’ve read this review in The Scotsman and this one from today’s edition of The Guardian (both which suggest that album is artistctically much more than the embarrassing self-revelatory mess interviews with her suggest), I’m putting it on my list of those albums I need to get hold of immediately.

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Mary Coughlan: The House of Ill Repute

(Rubyworks)

Mary Coughlan is an impassioned performer who expresses herself best through the words and tunes of others. Her impressive new album has all the swaggering “nu-chanson” of artists such as Arthur H or the Tiger Lillies but with an extra, more accessible dimension. She knows it’s not enough to sing literate words over competent backing – the sound must embody the meaning of the songs. Erik Visser’s arrangements ensure that well-chosen tracks – such as Pornography, and Kirsty MacColl’s Bad – gain in translation. Coughlan is not a rock singer, but she gives pieces such as Moon in a Taxi Cab an authenticity that few rockers retain after their first flush. Neither is she a jazzer, yet she wraps her voice around the contours of Some Cats Know (Leiber and Stoller) as sexily as Peggy Lee in her prime. She can do scary, too: witness the eloquent bile of Antarctica, and the pounding, punishing Whore of Babylon. Tom Waits has met his Irish match.

 

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