wears the trousers magazine


terra naomi: go quietly (2009)
September 16, 2009, 8:49 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,

n_lp_terranaomi_09

Terra Naomi
Go Quietly •••½
Self-released

When Wears The Trousers interviewed Terra Naomi a couple of years ago, just prior to the release of her major-label debut Under The Influence, she came across as a smart, charismatic, profound and politically aware young woman on the verge of being stifled by the elephant in the room – the room being a plush office, the elephant being the Island Records rep who loomed in the corner throughout, interjecting whenever the conversation approached any topic even vaguely controversial. For a self-made woman who’d amassed a gigantic fanbase as one of the first artists to really make use of YouTube in its infancy, a woman who had pulled herself out of a teenage drug addiction, a woman who had single-handedly booked four US tours and whose signature tune ‘Up Here’ proudly proclaimed “I am who I am and if you don’t like it then fuck you, man”, this nannying seemed tragically at odds with everything she stood for. And sure enough, the album, when it surfaced, was just as obvious a mismatch and sank without a trace.

Two years down the line, the self-released Go Quietly ushers in an unapologetically frank new era for Naomi, a back to basics epiphany that brings the spotlight full circle onto her vocals and unadorned songwriting. In an admirable display of restraint, only one track (‘Job Well Done’) appears to take aim at music industry bigwigs, though Naomi pulls no punches in setting out her agenda. Too fierce for maudlin passive aggression, she whips out a fast-strummed acoustic and crammed-full couplets for a barbed hit and run that will almost certainly collide with its subjects’ deaf ears. Elsewhere, ‘Nobody Knows You Anymore’ could be interpreted partly as a reflection on retreating to the States after Under The Influence tanked and confronting the reality of starting again on her own, but perhaps that’s just projecting.

What is certain is that Naomi has retained her knack for tossing out an arresting lyric. On ‘Bad Time To Fall In Love’, which plays like a long-lost acoustic Blondie outtake, she “can play it cool / calm as a heart attack”, while the damning ‘Patron Saint Of Strippers’ opens fire at predating playboys with lines like, “The last one gave you STDs / at least one’s a treatable disease / well, that’s just the cost of helping everyone.” So far, so good, but Naomi gets additional credit for loosening up and trying out different styles, even when she doesn’t quite pull them off. At the top of the class is ‘You For Me’, an album highlight with all the vocal playfulness of Jaymay and Regina Spektor, while the short straw goes to ‘Suffer For Her Sins’, a slightly embarrassing misstep that would better suit a singer like Lucinda Williams or Holly Golightly.

As a tether-testing, range-finding exercise, Go Quietly is encouraging; as a standalone listening experience, it’s an adequate precursor to the real deal that’s coming next year. By then one hopes that Naomi will have figured out what works best and will finally make the album that Under The Influence should have been. As if to underpin that hope, Go Quietly finishes on a new version of ‘Say It’s Possible’ (a hidden bonus track), the song that started this whole crazy business for Naomi in the first place. For when you have raw talent and unshakeable intent, almost anything is.

Alan Pedder
Available from Terra’s website only; www.myspace.com/terranaomi

‘Go Quietly’

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[…] Clatworthy 26/7] 32 She Keeps Bees – Nests [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 28/7] 33 Terra Naomi – Go Quietly [Alan Pedder 16/9] 34 The Donnas – Greatest Hits Vol. 16 [Matt Barton 27/7] 35 Ellen Mary McGee […]

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