“One of the most promising and provocative singer/songwriters to emerge from England in years, Gilmore detangles sex, religion, and politics with a literate eloquence and defiance that recall the early poetic eruptions of Bob Dylan.” -USA TODAY
It is not unusual for a songwriter to stray from the beaten path as they mature, to experiment more intrepidly and find a thoroughly distinctive voice. But when this happens at age 25, people take notice.
It is fitting that Thea Gilmore conceived her Compass Records release, Songs From The Gutter, as part of a Bob Dylan tribute album. Like the obstinate American songwriter to whom she is frequently compared, Gilmore seemed unshackled by convention even in her early work, able to escape the confines of both genre and industry and give her creativity space to grow.
Gilmore believes that audiences don’t want to be pandered to and that people will respond to honest expression more than accessibility. The young Brit’s respect for music listeners paid off and accolades poured in from such respected sources as USA Today, Mojo, and Guardian. Gilmore was invited to appear on Radio 4 and at Glastonbury Festival, one of the UK’s largest musical events. In the fall of 2004, she toured the US with Joan Baez.
A steadfastly original lyricist generating recordings at a breakneck pace, Gilmore has kept her growing fan base almost satisfied with a new project nearly every year. While most of her peers spend years in the planning stages, Gilmore takes her ideas to the studio quickly, capturing the muse of the moment and allowing it to be whatever it is, whether that fits in with any larger trajectory or career plan — or not. Following the highly successful 2003 release of Rules for Jokers, Gilmore changed direction with 2004’s lush, Avalanche.
Songs From the Gutter is a textbook example of Gilmore’s method of creation. Invited to contribute to a Bob Dylan tribute CD sponsored by Uncut magazine, the ever-generating artist found herself in a studio in Cheadle Hulme in May of 2002. Five days later she emerged with ten tracks, which she promptly added to several older, unavailable cuts for an internet-only, double album release. Nigel Stonier’s production and a mastering job at Abbey Road polished the collection without taking away any of its nerve, and fans clamored for the disc at Gilmore’s live shows. Making its American debut on Compass Records this August, Songs from the Gutter glimmers with the immediacy and unpredictability of Gilmore’s performances, delving into her darker, grittier side. True to her varied and prolific form, Gilmore will follow Songs from the Gutter with Loft Music, an album of covers that will be released on Compass Records this fall.
Gilmore is best described as a gritty but lyrical poet, one who is frequently asked about politics and social issues because of her hard hitting lyrics. Her response to such a question in a recent See Magazine interview is classic take-no-prisoners Thea – “I just take a more social standpoint — personal politics rather than politician politics. My politics basically comes from trying to put a rocket up people’s asses and saying open your eyes a bit.”