Saturday, February 05, 2011

Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under

What do you do when stuck in the house? Well, review downloads, OBVIOUSLY. Don't know why I didn't think of it before. I downloaded this last week and my first listen of it was punctuated by loud mobile phone conversations from my bathroom occupants. I have now given it my undivided attention and my reaction is much the same as the first, distracted listen: very patchy.

Amanda Palmer is an undeniable force (one blogger referred to her as a phonomancer--had to look up the word, I admit). Her gig last year about this time in Vienna stands out as one of the best I have ever attended. She had such a strong connection with the audience, such mastery of stagecraft and such a great catalogue of songs, it was truly inspirational. And she is not above playing to the gallery, dotting her repertoire with site-specific songs and garnering big love points.

So, to Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, her love letter to the people of Australia and New Zealand, which has come out..... just as she started a tour of Australia and NZ. Imagine that! Now, an album of songs about either of those countries could be great. As could a live gig recorded there. Or an album of songs written in those countries. What Palmer has opted for is a mish-mash of all three. Hmm.

There's the Nick Cave cover, "The Ship Song", that closes the album. A few songs recorded at a Sydney Opera House gig. And then songs that may or may not have a connection to her surroundings, such as "In My Mind" and the intense piano ballad, "On an Unknown Beach".

My personal favourite is "Vegemite (the Black Death)", which is f___ing hilarious. And topical. And recorded live at the Sydney Opera House, and therefore gets a lot of laughs from its target audience. Win all around. Unfortunately, nothing else on the album (12 songs, including a Vegemite commercial sung by the audience) really matches that, although "Map of Tasmania" is pretty special.

Now that she is free of her hated record deal, Palmer can record and release whatever and whenever she wants. And she certainly seems to be having a whale of a time in Australia, as her blog attests. Maybe she will do another round of recording and release a more cohesive album.

Until then, enjoy "Map of Tasmania" (now with added Peaches!).

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