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Shannon Wright | Dyed In The Wool (Quarterstick)
When faced with dense jungle, you either hack your way unflinchingly through it to your destination, alter your route, or give up and turn back, conceding in frustrated admiration to nature's ways. The same principles can be applied to most areas of life, including the appreciation of art. Once you finally grasp the genius of Kevin Shields, for example, then you're in fine form for the next arduous trek, until the beauty of Atari Teenage Riot becomes all too clear. But no amount of machete power is going to help me understand that a pile of bricks or an unmade bed is art, so that would be the terrain that defeats me. The lyrics that Shannon Wright presents on 'Dyed In The Wool' are heavily veiled and obtuse to this listener, delivered in language not of this, or perhaps any other age. Consider "I rummage and sear this furious step / you climb adrift this boorish racket." Utter bollocks? No, I don't think so, because if you look closely enough, there are many clues lurking as to a thread, at least. There are frequent references to death, decay and endings, and whilst I know nothing of Shannon Wright's personal history in inspiration for her words, it does feel as if this is as personal a work as you don't want to pry too deeply into. I may be hideously inaccurate, but this is what this recording does to me. Delivered in a voice dropping between Polly Harvey and Siouxsie, unsettling baroque images, in this curious new time-spanning vernacular, are set against music both jarring and beautiful. Organic and vibrant, tunes vary from rolling carnival beats and acoustic guitars, to insomnia-inducing piano laments, and taut, twisted folk with orchestral samples. Method of Sleeping is the standout, particularly in that it is the least musically spooked, but ironically also in that is the most obvious death chant. It's dreadfully sad, and is the flagging heart of an album that, in itself, feels like some kind of ending. Perhaps it is Shannon Wright's 'Electro Shock Blues' or 'Automatic For The People?' 'Dyed in the Wool' will sell less than a millionth of those two classics combined, but can compete in emotional punch, however little of it I, at least, can penetrate.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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