The Guardian, John Fordham, 20th Jan 2011
22 Jan 2011
Singer/guitarist Sarah Gillespie doesn’t often take her foot off the gas, in which respect she mirrors her arranger and sax-partner Gilad Atzmon’s appetite for politically charged intensity. But Gillespie, who joins Bob Dylan’s lyrical bite and languid delivery to the forthrightness of Joni Mitchell, with a little rap-like percussiveness thrown in, is an original of real promise, even if she does, perhaps, try to hurl in too many ideas at once. The title means what it says: the songs reference everything from extraordinary rendition to coalition politics, and the forms are often folk songs, challenged by Atzmon’s snorting bass clarinet lines, or impish swerves into Flight of the Bumble Bee quotes. There’s a compelling bleariness over electronic-percussion beats on the Kurt Weillian Cinematic Nectar; evocative bent-pitch sax sounds introduce the Guantánamo-themed How the West Was Won; and snarling defiance and girly-chorus vocals collide on The Bolsheviks and the Alamo. Although her repertoire is still forming, Gillespie sounds like a mature performer (an incisive guitarist as well as an expressive singer), and she’s unquestionably going places.