wears the trousers magazine


cortney tidwell: boys (2009)
June 15, 2009, 9:30 am
Filed under: album, mp3, review, video | Tags: , , ,

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Cortney Tidwell
Boys •••½
City Slang 

In the present circumstances of perceived market saturation in popular music, a solid income and a slice of fame pie is never guaranteed and many performers have to squeeze the two realms of work and art into their all-too-short day. Cortney Tidwell has supplemented her musical output by working as a pre-school teacher in Nashville, but she is now hoping to raise her already highly respected profile into the big league with her second album, Boys. There is a real concrete and flowers feel to this wonderfully strange concoction. On ’17 Horses’, for example, the drums sound like field artillery, the bass drum so relentless it’s as if percussionist Scott Martin is attempting to smash through the floor of the studio. This rhythmic thunder is contrasted with the formless drone of swirling electric guitars, soaring louder and louder over a thick wall of noise, and reaching out of this unholy riot is Tidwell’s delicate, ethereal voice, layered over and over again with thick self-harmonies. This contrast between muscular musicianship and sonorous voice continues throughout the album and works to both arrest and unsettle the ears.

There is an equal balance of discord and unity throughout the album, creating a sense of excitement for the patient listener in search of sonic innovation. Lush arrangements make for a psychedelic experience, as swirling guitars and synthesizers meld with the reverberating vocals – in some cases so well that it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two. Tidwell’s harmonisation on reworked old B-side ‘Oslo’ is so densely layered that her voice becomes an abstracted wall of sound, inseparable from the other instruments. There is something ungraspable about her singing voice: it is refreshingly free of histrionics and accenting, making it resemble (in some ways) Björk, or even Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. When it gently flirts with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James – an outspoken champion of Tidwell’s talent – on the punningly titled ‘Being Crosby’, the effect is close to hypnotic.

Elsewhere, Tidwell dips fairly effortlessly into a variety of genres, from the R&B-influenced ‘Bad News’ to the surprisingly forthright electro-pop of ‘Watusii’, a song that’s crying out for a similar treatment to the one Ewan Pearson gave ‘Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up’ back in 2007 – given the right push, a remix could have real hit potential in Europe. Still, with so much style-hopping going on there is a sense that the album loses a degree of coherence in its narrative structure. In some cases the songwriting plays second fiddle to the experimentation, which may frustrate those who enjoyed the more conventional direction of her debut. These niggles aside, Boys remains an exciting and impressive document of Tidwell flexing her creative muscles.

Dan Everett
UK release date: 08/06/09; www.myspace.com/cortneytidwell

 

FREE MP3: Cortney Tidwell, ‘17 Horses’

 

‘Watusii’

’17 Horses’


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[…]  28/6] 33 Immaculate Machine – High On Jackson Hill [Richard Steele 11/4] 34 Cortney Tidwell – Boys [Dan Everett 15/6] 35 Laura Gibson – Beasts Of Seasons [Martyn Clayton 15/4] 36 Matteah Baim – […]

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[…] What we said then: “There is an equal balance of discord and unity throughout the album, creating a sense of excitement for the patient listener in search of sonic innovation. Lush arrangements make for a psychedelic experience, as swirling guitars and synthesizers meld with the reverberating vocals – sometimes so well that it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two… In some cases the songwriting plays second fiddle to the experimentation, which may frustrate those who enjoyed the more conventional direction of her debut. These niggles aside, Boys remains an exciting and impressive document of Tidwell flexing her creative muscles.” •••½ Dan Everett […]

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