Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth – Utopian Ashes: Much pain, much gain

Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 00:00

   
 

Album:
Utopian Ashes

Artist:
Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth

Label:
Third Man

Genre:
Alternative

Bobby Gillespie channelled Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra when duetting with Kate Moss on an electrofied version of Some Velvet Morning on Primal Scream’s Evil Heat in 2002.

For Utopian Ashes, his first full album project outside Primal Scream since Psychocandy by The Jesus and Mary Chain in 1985, he mines the tradition of country soul duets in the vein of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’s Grievous Angel, or George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s We Go Together, alongside his collaborative partner Jehnny Beth.

Gillespie and the Savages frontwoman confront the disintegration of a fictional relationship in a collection of torch songs about everything falling apart. The Primal Scream singer claims it us an exercise in putting the pain back into songwriting, something he considers to be in precious short supply in modern music.

Remember We Were Lovers is a curious and compelling beast, a highly uplifting and emotionally turbocharged break-up pop song, complete with blasts of horns and an overarching sense of drama.

A tight crack squad comprising Beth’s musical and life partner Johnny Hostile plays bass alongside a Primal Scream trio of Andrew Innes on guitar, Martin Duffy on piano and Darrin Mooney on drums.

This minimal, pared-back line-up works wonders in offering something dramatically different to Gillespie and Beth’s respective bands, or any usual expectations and preconceptions.

Utopian Ashes is far from a perfect album, but it is a defiantly good one.