Album: Tanya Donelly

Whiskey Tango Ghosts, 4AD
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

"I have lost something on the way," sings Tanya Donelly at the start of this, her third solo album. She's not wrong: mostly, what she has lost is the naive pop charm and awkward ebullience of her work with Belly a decade ago. That has been replaced here, on tracks such as "Divine Sweet Divide" and "Every Devil", by a placidly introspective form of piano balladry pitched somewhere between the Jones girls, Norah and Rickie Lee. It's not a good swap: there are a few moments here that dimly recall the soulful ruminations of Laura Nyro, the late high priestess of white soul, but the comparison is ultimately damning: Donelly apparently lacks Nyro's ear for great hooks. The result is a set of vague, ephemeral songs, some co-written with her husband and bandmate Dean Fisher, that pore over the emotional currents of their relationship too much. "You are the mountain; I'm the low-flying biplane," she sings in "The Center". "We come together in the most calamitous ways." Ah, if only that were true, or at least r

"I have lost something on the way," sings Tanya Donelly at the start of this, her third solo album. She's not wrong: mostly, what she has lost is the naive pop charm and awkward ebullience of her work with Belly a decade ago. That has been replaced here, on tracks such as "Divine Sweet Divide" and "Every Devil", by a placidly introspective form of piano balladry pitched somewhere between the Jones girls, Norah and Rickie Lee. It's not a good swap: there are a few moments here that dimly recall the soulful ruminations of Laura Nyro, the late high priestess of white soul, but the comparison is ultimately damning: Donelly apparently lacks Nyro's ear for great hooks. The result is a set of vague, ephemeral songs, some co-written with her husband and bandmate Dean Fisher, that pore over the emotional currents of their relationship too much. "You are the mountain; I'm the low-flying biplane," she sings in "The Center". "We come together in the most calamitous ways." Ah, if only that were true, or at least reflected in the sonic shape of this album, a dreary series of meandering ruminations garbed in the Americana livery of piano, guitar and pedal steel, a formulaic sound that reaches its apogee in the Stepfordesque "My Life as a Ghost". Hardly the greatest of recommendations.

Comments