Thea Gilmore is on the cusp of something big; but then she has been for eight years now. Gilmore famously lists Bruce Springsteen amongst her fans, but her prolific career, resulting in eight albums to date, seems to repeatedly fall under the radar of the mainstream music press. This situation, however, appears finally about to change, following rave reviews in the national papers, flagrantly querying “why haven’t more people heard of Thea Gilmore?”
Liejacker, Gilmore’s latest release, is both the product of a significant period of depression, a critique of the music industry, “that last bastion of misogyny”, and its various corruptions. Achieving a record deal at the tender age of 19 enabled Gilmore’s hubris to nurture her artistic credibility from the offset, “when someone said something that I didn’t agree with, I was arrogant enough to say well no, that’s rubbish… that’s not how I want to look or sound or behave.” At a time when huge commercial and critical success for Britain’s young singer-songwriters is tainted by an all-access attitude to artists’ personal lives, Gilmore is refreshingly under-the-radar and shows no inclination towards tabloid sensationalism. “With some other artists, I always get a bit sad… there’re a lot of people running their hands through their music, and so a lot of people do have the truth squashed out of them these days because it’s not saleable.”
The sheltered nature of Gilmore’s career does not mean however that Liejacker is devoid of emotion or angst, it’s just that Liejacker avoids the rock, roll and rehab clichés to produce a raw insight into the terrifying realities and struggles of depression. As the product of a most testing period, Liejacker lurches from the pithiness of Black Letter, to the redemption of Breathe via Gilmore’s kitchen cupboards and improvised home studio, with the surprising addition of a drastically re-worked cover of the Dead or Alive smash, You Spin Me Right Round.
Liejacker has inadvertently become Gilmore’s most honest and intimate collection to date as she readily admits that the end product was never intended for release; subsequently, the usual barriers of public appearance, whereby “you become a little bit less honest,” completely dissolved for Gilmore. “The album wasn’t really intended to be an album at the time, and that made the writing more free and personal.”
The esteem with which Gilmore is held by her music industry peers is reinforced by a plethora of high profile collaborations, including Old Soul, featuring the Zutons’ Dave McCabe, and The Lower Road, with Joan Baez. Gilmore felt that Old Soul “could’ve been in danger of disappearing into cliché,” as a solo effort, while “bringing someone else in means that your attention is kept rather than just assuming you know how it’s going to pan out.” The album’s writing remains however, a solitary task. Songwriting was always a natural progression for the young, poetic Gilmore who “really didn’t look back from my first song onwards.”
Gilmore’s refusal to pander to the preferences of the music industry, with the production of songs as a personal outlet, has paradoxically proved to be her niche judging by the rapturous reception of Liejacker in the national press. Following a national tour, her profile continues to grow, but far from basking in the glory of her latest reviews for Gilmore “it’s always eyes down to the next record. It’s sort of a little bit like a merry-go-round and I love it.”