For 11 years Thea Gilmore has been producing well written and often insightful music, without ever making the bigger step up. For a decade she has been one of Britain's most consistent female singer songwriters, a classier KT Tunstall, but without the luck. Occasionally her songs have made national radio playlists, and she has some celebratory fans (Bruce Springsteen for one). But with album number 10 Gilmore has perhaps produced her finest collection.
Gifted with a rich vocal, that can do both twee and harder-edged material with equal conviction, Murphy's Heart begins with the Mike Scott sounding 'This Town', a simple shuffling acoustic romp about a place worse than heaven or hell that you can't escape from. Scott has been a sometime collaborator and his lyrical and vocal traits are evident here in other tracks too, like 'Teach Me To Be Bad', a stomping brass filled call for a bit of an education in the bedroom.
Less sexual and more delicate, is the lead single 'You're The Radio', with verses referencing Romeo and Juliet and a cracking biting chorus that its intended target (radio) will adore. 'God's Got Nothing On You' is Gilmore doing a brilliant juxtaposition of pop and scathing lyrics, while 'Love's the Greatest Instrument' has a super catchy woo-hoo alongside cynical references about love, where Gilmore reflects about the lessons of being 30 years old. Indeed for someone so young Thea Gilmore is extraordinarily observant.
The terrific balance of the album is completed with some tender and thoughtful ballads. 'How the Love Gets In' and 'Automatic Blue' are delightful. The latter is a slow dance, with gentle violin punctuating a story about a friend of the singer's who met the love of his life after marrying and having children with someone else. Knowing the back story makes it even more tearful.
A decade into her career, this is the album Thea Gilmore has been threatening to produce. Rival KT Tunstall might be back this autumn, but she won't come close to anything this classy. This is a refreshing break from the plethora of young female singers, who while talented, have no life experience. At the core of Murphy's Heart are well crafted melodies and artful lyrics. Now, why did that ever go out of fashion?