Amanda Palmer: There Will Be No Intermission review – Fearless messages and intimate confessions
There Will Be No Intermission
“Everyone’s too scared to open their eyes up but everyone’s too scared to close them.” These lyrics from The Ride are the first words uttered on Amanda Palmer’s third solo album There Will Be No Intermission, a piano-driven record that acts as an introspective stream of consciousness from an extroverted performer.
Clocking in at 78 minutes in total, with 20 songs, There Will Be No Intermission is relentless in its content and its length. In playing her personal struggles as a mother, a woman, a performer and a friend up against the terrors of modern-day politics, grief, online vitriol and abuses of power, Palmer doesn’t run thin on material.
“The climb to the crest is less frightening with someone to clutch you, but isn’t it nice when we’re all afraid at the same time?” she asks on The Ride, which goes on for 10 minutes and 13 seconds, and for the rest of the album she shares her fears, giving us something to clutch on to and reaching out for something to keep her afloat too.
The album was crowdfunded by donations made by 12,000 fans on Patreon, and Palmer uses her music to doubly give something back to her fans. Not only do they get an album that they helped lift off the ground, but she pours every inch of herself into her songs; the album cover features her naked, brandishing a sword.
But where she has her supporters, she has her detractors – and she addresses them on Drowning in the Sound. “You’re trying to help and you’re clicking for change, and you’re calling it out and you’re adding your name,” she sings, tearing down the hypocrisies of online life. “And you’re marching for peace but you’re lynching the bitch that got up in your face.”
She credits a trip to Dublin as the inspiration for Voicemail for Jill, a song written for a friend who had an abortion
She bares the insecurities that come with being a divisive public figure on Bigger on the Inside, wrapping it up in the sadness of personal loss. “I’ve been drunk and skipping dinner, eating skin from off my fingers, and I tried to call my brother but he no longer exists,” she sings, referring to her brother Karl who died in 1996. “I keep forgetting to remember that he would have been much prouder if he saw me shake these insults off instead of getting bitter.”
She credits a trip to Dublin last year as the inspiration for Voicemail for Jill, a song written for a friend who had an abortion. “I’ve been trying to write a good abortion song for 25 years,” she says in the album’s accompanying press release. “It was only after being in Dublin for the abortion referendum that I came home and glued myself to the piano bench and said: ‘Amanda, write it. You’re a good enough songwriter now, you’ll find a way.’”
Using an intimate, confessional tone, she provides support in difficult situations, particularly on A Mother’s Confession, another 10-minute belter, where she shares her perceived failings as a mother, whether it’s seeing her infant son fall off the bed in slow motion, or wondering if it was a mistake to have a child when the world is falling apart. These songs make the album’s release on International Women’s Day more significant.
Throughout There Will Be No Intermission, which was produced by John Congleton, Palmer avoids the theatrics and sounds softer than ever before. She fixates on the complexities of the personal and the contradictions of the public, and, in doing so, she throws out a lifeline – a long one at that – to those who need something to hold on to.