ALBUM REVIEW: Jehnny Beth – To Love Is To Live (Caroline Records)
This is the debut solo album by the French frontwoman of London-based post-punk band Savages, and it’s very different indeed to her usual output.
Much of the aggression that marked Savages’ pair of Mercury-nominated albums is missing, and in its place is a tenderness that shows a previously unseen dimension to the singer-songwriter’s talents.
The record features a host of collaborators, including producers Flood, Atticus Ross, and longtime co-creator Johnny Hostile, plus guest spots from The Xx’s Romy Madley Croft, actor Cillian Murphy, and IDLES’ Joe Talbot.
Urgent lead single I’m The Man, probably the most Savages-like track here, is a bit of a red herring for anyone expecting more of their jagged, guitar-driven sounds.
Instead, there’s moments of intimacy (such as on latest single Flower), sensuality (on the PJ Harvey-like We Will Sin Together) and intensity (How Could You).
The piano-led The French Countryside is a gentle song which displays a real ethereal edge to Jehnny’s voice, while elsewhere there’s sparsity and lush instrumentation in equal measure (often within the same track, such as the opening I Am).
The album continually throws up opposites of shade and light, all wrapped in a cornucopia of sounds. It’s a record best listened to alone, late at night, with no other distractions, and will doubtless feature in lots of ‘best of 2020′ lists in a few months’ time. 8/10.