Monday, 7 February 2011

Sunlight and Sweet Melancholy

As I write we are being pelted with windswept tree branches. Nothing too big thankfully, more like large twigs. Sandwiched between a succession of grey and windy days there was a sunny one. I was ready with the tripod and a roll of white wallpaper and my trusty and versatile Canon Ixus. Oh, and a piece of string to suspend the paper from the paper towel-holder. My mission: To photograph my sock creatures.

The sun shone obligingly onto the extending kitchen worktop, but it does move around and sink low very quickly. So the clock (if I had one) was ticking. Sock monsters are not very co-operative either. I had to scour the trailer for discreet objects that could hide behind the critters and hold them up, things like small paint pots and paperclips.

Normally, while I potter I am more than content with having Huey Morgan in the background and his 'if it's cool he'll play it' style radio show on BBC Radio 6 Music. But while I got absorbed in my task I felt I needed an album to unfold around me. I downloaded Nina Nastasia's 2010 release, Outlaster.

I played it all the way through, and then immediately had to play the whole album again. I knew this wasn't really going to be background music since I have often been sucked into her second album, The Blackened Air, and wallowed in its delicate darkness. Outlaster is a more deliciously lush offering. There are moments where you find that you have simply stopped what you were doing and are listening, really listening. It is not just the unpretentious clarity of her voice, or the compelling lyrics. There is her gently meticulous guitar playing and the strings that swoop and scrape in raw, rough-edged, folky gusts.
If you embrace melancholia and cheer in unsentimental equal measure then this might be your cup of tea, but listen alone, because if anyone talks over this music it would be hard to forgive.

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