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Amanda Palmer - 'There Will Be No Intermission' Album Review


1. All The Things 2. The Ride 3. Congratulations 4. Drowning In The Sound 5. Hold On Tight 6. The Thing About Things 7. Life’s Such a Bitch Isn’t It 8. Judy Blume 9. Feeding The Dark 10. Bigger On The Inside 11. There Will Be No Intermission 12. Machete 13. You Know The Statistics 14. Voicemail For Jill 15. You’d Think I’d Shot Their Children 16. A Mother’s Confession 17. They’re Saying Not To Panic 18. Look Mummy, No Hands 19. Intermission Is Relative 20. Death Thing

Henri Matisse once said “Creativity takes courage” and it’s a sentiment I imagine most would agree with, without really considering it’s true implications.

Amanda Palmer has had a fascinating life as a piano lead singer songwriter, performer, spokesperson… influencer... human. There’s a variety of words you could use, because Amanda Palmer’s ‘career’ has altered the boundaries and guidelines that you usually expect from people who put music in your ears.

Most artists will do what they can to latch onto the vehicle that will propel their career, whilst Amanda Palmer has historically given said vehicle the finger, and done her own thing.

She has always been about direct communication with her audience - from manually curated mailing lists, to her famous kickstarter that broke records for the amount she raised for her second solo album “Theatre Is Evil”, to her continued audience support with her popular Patreon. She writes personal blogs, shares various song projects on a whim, and voices (loudly) her views of the world. As a result she’s collected a large fan base and her ability to create such loyalty and devotion from her fans is inspiring and something I imagine most large record corporations desperately wish they could emulate for their own monetary goals.

This album feels like the culmination of this long conversation she’s been having with her core audience. This record isn’t for the masses, it isn’t for the reviewers, it isn’t for the general public - it’s for her fans, and it’s for her. It doesn’t really have a ‘theme’, it hasn’t been targeted with certain demographics in mind, it hasn’t been put under the microscope by teams of other people to nitpick over minute details they think should be changed for its ability to sell.

It’s an honest and sorrowful art piece from a person who has had a hard few years of loss - beyond the realms of what most expect from music at all.

The album - 20 tracks - is more like one long experience than a collection of songs. There are small tracks of instrumental pieces bridging the more fuller songs, to really drive home the concept of ‘no intermission’ - this isn’t an album you just throw on a spotify playlist, set to shuffle. It’s a piece of art that demands your full attention.

In this day and age of constant social media and digital streaming and ‘fake news’ and everything else - having a record that not only ideally requires you to focus on it, but manages to pull that attention out of you regardless, is not only brave, but almost unbelievable - somehow, Amanda Palmer has managed that.

Every aspect of this album seems almost intentionally against the expectations of the industry. It’s minimalist in it’s instrumentation, primarily naked piano and vocals with synth, strings and effect elements strewn in for emphasis and dynamic shifts to support the main instrument. There’s short bursts of instrumentals between songs that far surpass the expected 3.30 minutes - they are all emotionally devastating, powerful, and stripped back. There is nowhere to hide, the instruments and vocals are as raw as the lyrics are personal.

Outside of this, the majority of the songs have in one way or another been heard by a lot of the audience - live videos, older recordings shared on Patreon, other releases - it’s technically more a collection of the songs she’s written over the last 7 years, but the way it has been recorded and sequenced would have you believe it was an intentional art project, meant to swallow all of your grief, fear and sadness in one listen.

This isn’t the album most artists (or labels) would be brave enough to release, but Amanda Palmer is very much in a world of her own.

When comparing this album to her previous work, I would argue that it is oddly more reminiscent of her work with The Dresden Dolls in regards to it’s cabaret and more ‘macabre’ sound on occasion (specifically songs like ‘Machete’ and some of the instrumental tracks), something that was a lot less present on her previous two solo albums, however the power of the lyrical content of all of the tracks has the same emotional delivery of a lot of her solo effort tracks like “Blake Says”, “Have To Drive” and “The Bed Song”.

It’s hard to pinpoint tracks that ‘stand out’ as the album is more an experience than a bunch of songs, each one as brilliant as the last. The one I will highlight (should you completely ignore this review and pick and choose tracks psychotically at random) is “A Mothers Confession” - it’s a beautiful, haunting, and unspoken story of motherhood and when I watched her perform it live last May I cried my eyes out. I think that’s a ringing endorsement.

However - you should listen to it all. I recommend that you turn the lights off, you grab some decent headphones, you lie down with your eyes closed and listen to it from start to finish. Cry if you want to. Be brave.

Review - Kayleigh Morgan

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