Sunday, 30 June 2013

Georgia's Horse - Weather Codes

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Judging the correct length for an album can depend on many factors. For a set of fizzing, punky type numbers, just breaking the half hour mark will do fine, any longer and it could get repetitive. Other bands who've been known to indulge a bit more like, say, post-Barrett Pink Floyd, can get away with an hour quite easily, such is the epic and sometimes slow-building nature of their material. For her second album 'Weather Codes', Texan native Georgia's Horse, the alias of Teresa Maldonado, had a whopping 40 tracks to pick from. A double album could have been on the cards, but how many double albums, however good they are, would not have sounded better trimmed down to a single? Probably not many. And so Georgia's Horse picked 14 tracks for this endeavour. Which leads to another question and a potential problem with 'Weather Codes'. Is 14 tracks (with a regular length of anywhere between two-and-a-half and five minutes) too much for one sitting?

To her credit, Teresa has included a certain degree of variety to the compositions she chose to include, so that prevents monotony. However, the consistent tempo and general barren feel hardly make for the most diverse of listens either. The writing process started on an old, out of tune piano, and many of the songs have only been lightly ordained since those early demos, but finding a bad song is a challenge. The roots of the recording process are perhaps best heard on the lovely 'A Long Ride Home', the plinky-plonky 'Fancy' and the simplistic 'Brick Hard Heart', another sweet song. Based around a not uncommon theme of heartbreak and loneliness, this record can be hard going at times. Stripped-back blues is given a run out on 'Apple', the bare-bones approach is used for 'The Millers', 'Strep Throat' is nicely made but forgettable, the same could be said of 'Six' and also closer 'Pram'. Many of these songs are accomplished and emotion-packed without necessarily being the most rewarding of listens.

When Georgia's Horse come up with the goods then we find some truly excellent songwriting and arranging. The haunting, baroque ballad 'Ginger' piles on the atmosphere, as does the stark and desolate 'The Bullet Sinks'; 'Thistlebomb' and the ace, crunching 'Weather Codes Part 2' are more experimental and introduce more modern sounds, although they're hardly cutting-edge; better still is 'Weather Codes Part 3', a timeless and emotive track. 'Westlake' is a total stunner. It would be amazing to have had fourteen tracks of this calibre, but that's easier said than done. Here Georgia's Horse gets everything right: her voice is rich and silky, the style moves away from the traditional formats used so far and the production sounds sublime. This is a real highlight, not just of the album, but of the year so far. All told, 'Weather Codes' isn't the most accessible of albums and it could have been shortened at no major cost and improved in doing so, but maybe that would be compromising Georgia's Horse's vision for the album. It's blatantly obvious how much care and attention has been ploughed into the record. So while it may be hard going at times, it improves with repeat plays and you have to take your hat off to Teresa Maldonado for making such an emotive and carefully considered set of songs.





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