Born of a ‘homecoming’ trip to Ethiopia for frontwoman Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne, ‘Thread of Gold’ is the kind of record that you need to embrace almost as a performance piece – to find the artist’s own intent in the music, and fully accept it. And what a rich backdrop it has. The title track is a shimmering jewel, a piano-and-strings ballad that recalls Bat For Lashes at her best, while elsewhere the album’s diversity of styles is underpinned by a simple and engaging beauty, like on ‘Empire’ – poised and gentle, it’s a smooth duet akin to Jose Gonzalez with a few more instruments in the mix.
Lyrically though, it’s a somewhat patchy affair. The strength and impact of lines like “No church or spire spared by the walls of empire” and “These broken ribs will protect you” is undermined somewhat by some distinctly over-earnest verses elsewhere. ‘A Taxi Man’ sounds something like a creative writing class chewing over their weakest couplets while an arrhythmic and disinterested orchestra tunes up in the background.
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