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Jen Cloher - Jen Cloher (Look Out Kid)

The lyric "those who can, they do, those who can't, review" didn't go unnoticed by this journalistic pretender as the Melbourne-based singer songwriter Jen Cloher made clear her stance on the state of the music scene in Shoegazers, one of the ten songs on this her eponymous fourth album. There's a distinct sense of saying it how it is in these songs, which surprisingly comes across as quite refreshing. Throughout the album, we find a close collaboration with her musical partner/wife Courtney Barnett, whose sneering left-handed guitar licks embellish the songs in all the right places. Appearing almost Patti Smith-like on the cover, a candid shot that could easily have been snapped by Robert Mapplethorpe, the image is just as revealing as the songs, such as Strong Woman, which is about as up close and personal as a songwriter gets.

Patti Smith, an obvious influence, gets a namecheck on the album opener Forgot Myself, which is also treated to a Kubrick-esque promo video, featuring Barnett in duplicate. Barnett's idiosyncratic guitar playing, notably on the free-flowing Analysis Paralysis, makes the enjoyment of this record even more enjoyable. Strong, punchy and packed with observations on her relationship with a successful partner on the indie music scene, (Shoegazers, Loose Magic, Great Australian Bite), this album is essential for all its joy and sorrow.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky