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Bridget Storm - Here's What's Left

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 24 / 5 / 2002

Bridget Storm - Here's What's Left
Label: Analogue Catalogue
Format: CD


Unsettling, but beautiful and compelling debut offering from Mancurian solo artist , producer and former riot girl Julie McLarnon , who has drawn comparisions with Tindersticks, Kate Bush and Portishead

On first listen this album by Manchester born Julie McLarnon is an unsettling experience. But there is something in the more immediately accessible tracks such as ‘Losing It’ and ‘Stitches’ which make one realise that this is an album which is going to be worth sticking with ,although it is never going to be an easy ride. Former ‘Thrush Puppie’ Julie plays the major part in Bridget Storm, writing all the songs, playing guitar, piano and organ and also, according to the credits, makes various unidentifiable noises, of which there are a good few scattered throughout the tracks. Julie also mixed and recorded everything on the album, putting into practice the craft she learnt from the much missed and talented Martin Hannett. Mention should, however, also be made of the contribution of Angela Duddy on violins and the cello playing of Semay Wu which add greatly to create the unsettling atmosphere, especially on the opening song, ‘Wake’ and the following track, ‘Oraine’. The mood given by these opening songs and the, at times hard to decipher, lyrics on ‘Wake’ make more sense to the listener once the sleeve note “dedicated to my sister Lorraine McLarnon 1962-1999” is read. These two songs bring to mind the music of Tindersticks. Close your eyes and you can imagine Stuart Staples singing these songs, especially ‘Oraine’. It is, however, on track three, the aforementioned ‘Losing It’, where the album really comes together and starts to shine. With Julie’s vocals sounding increasingly like those of Kate Bush, and the strings conjuring up the sound of ‘Army Dreamers’, it shows that Julie has an ear for a catchy melody, and a talent for taking those melodies and blending them into songs which create such a compelling and, at times, chilling atmosphere. This sound is carried over into the next track, ‘Stitches’, which has already, rightly so, been released as a single, albeit on a short run. The song gained approval from John Peel along the way. With some brilliant bass playing by Paul Blakesley and additional guitar by Kara Leckenby, it’s a beauty of a song, and when the drums kick in at 1 minute 15 it gives the song an almost psychedelic feel. Perfect for late night/early morning listening, it’s a reflective yet optimistic song of lost love, the lyrics “You hurt me too much to say I’ll be alright, I’ll stay alive…” leading into a heartbreaking instrumental fade out which leaves one aching for more of the same. Thank God for repeat buttons! If there is a fault with this album it’s that Julie’s at times fragile and angelic vocals are buried a bit too low in the mix which makes some of the lyrics, as mentioned earlier, hard to understand. It’s a shame, but as this is an album that one grows to love over a number of plays (and it does take time to reveal it’s dark beauty) it does have the advantage of then throwing up new surprises in the lyrics with every listen. The lyrics that are easily deciphered show that Julie has a good way with words. Although this is an album to be listened to and not to be chucked on when doing the ironing as background music and is more for those reflective, chilled out moments, having the vocals more to the fore would, however, have been nice. That is, a minor quibble though as this is really is an unique album and as far away from the riot girl sound of Julie’s previous band Thrush Puppies as possible. ‘Here’s What’s Left’ is an album which throws up new twists with each play, and one which the listener can return to time and time again and not get bored with. It’s unclassifiable really, apart from recalling the above mentioned Tindersticks and Kate Bush on certain tracks, Julie has turned in a remarkable, unique collection of songs with the strangest take on Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ that you are ever likely to hear!

Track Listing:-
1 Wake
2 Oraine
3 Losing It
4 Stiches
5 Quaalude Interlude
6 Conditioning
7 Terrestrial
8 Hush Hush Pills
9 Boy From Towerhill
10 Here's What's Left
11 Felt Something Go

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Interview (2002)
Bridget Storm - Interview
One of the outstanding debut albums of the year, Bridget Storm's 'Here's What's Left' has drawn its frontwoman Julie McLarnon positive reviews from all quarters, and comparisions with Kate Bush and Tori Amos.Malcolm Carter speaks to her about the album

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