I don’t quite remember why I came across Thea Gilmore. It was during my first year of university, and I think it was a series of online track exchanges with some friends. I heard This Girl is Taking Bets, from her Rules for Jokers album, and I just adored it. I was going to and from home a lot, and would usually have music going for most of the three hour journey, so got through plenty. I bought a few tracks, an album, and then saw she was going to Manchester Student Union’s academy.
It was a great gig – one of my favourites. I went on my own – so you can tell how much I wanted to see her!! I’ve seen a few since, and she has a great energy onstage. There’s a sort of diffidence – I wouldn’t find it surprising if she said she was a bit shy onstage but it comes across like a slightly quirky, sarcastic engagement with the audience – snarky asides, really, rather than a banter – but I loved it. At some point I spoke to the guy on the merch desk who asked where I’d first heard her and I confessed it was a download – not sure how that would go down! – and he just said great: you’re listening.
I’ve think I have fourteen albums – easily the most of any artist I own! There’s one that’s a collaboration with Sandy Denny that I don’t have. And I have a few EPs as well. She’s absolutely prolific – she tours a lot at the moment and it might have slightly slowed her down in terms of putting music out there, but she’s an artist who’s always writing and even when there’s not a new album, she’s got a new EP with a few tracks on. Her lyrics are stunning (I know – I’m gushing! I am such a fangirl). They’re genuine poetry, and I love the cleverness of them, the brilliant wordplay. When you hear her in interviews, she’s really interesting on the subject of poetry and music, and the interplay of lyric and tune. Her earlier stuff’s a little bit more rocky and Avalanche is one of my all-time favourite albums.
She’s an artist who somehow just seems to chime with me at different times. I listened to her Harpo’s Ghost when it came out, and I was going through a bit of a difficult time, and it just absolutely struck me – Contessa was exactly what it felt like, in words and music, like nobody quite got.
Thea’s on tour in the UK at the moment and I’m definitely going to see her this time around. This song is one of my early favourites: