July 15, 2024

Bouche – So Long Solemn


I paid little attention to the content of these songs; I was simply washed away by the delivery and wonderful textures. Slowed to a hesitant slow-step, these jazz-inflected bluesy ballads moved at glacial but magnificent pace. Sparsely played, only the necessary notes, on a bone-bare instrumentation, much of the album is voice and one or two instruments. Steel string guitar, Michael Timmins-style (Cowboy Junkies) electric guitar, deep double-bass, muted trumpet.

The glory of the ensemble is the voice. It reminds me strikingly of nineteen-eighties disappearing cult heroine, Mary Margaret O’Hara. Hurt, yet the voice of a survivor, this is a singer who could do justice to the darker end of Peggy Lee’s work or the hollowed out heart of the night-time concept albums of fifties Frank Sinatra (Wee Small Hours and Only The Lonely). Yet the sensibility belongs firmly to the blues. The deep and lonely, two o’clock in the morning blues. The inconsolable but damn-it-all blues. The voice belongs to Rebekah Bouche. Remember that name.

Rebekah sings and plays the double bass. Anything else is just colour, whether it is the keening voice of the trumpet or some guitar fuzz or pluck. Despite containing only nine songs, each is a lengthy meditation (you can’t rush melancholy) and the whole is a long and full album, something to spend an evening with. This is a comparative rarity; a pure and direct artistic vision, carried out without compromise.

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