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Kath Bloom - Thin Thin Line

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Artist: Kath Bloom

Album: Thin Thin Line

Label: Caldo Verde

Review date: Feb. 11, 2010

Both Nathan Hogan and Jennifer Kelly have explored the two most salient points that a discussion of Kath Bloom raises. We’ll proceed from there. In short, Bloom had worked with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the late 1970s and early 1980s on a number of odd folk albums that combined Bloom’s strong, traditional voice with Connors’ strange guitar work. After they stopped collaborating in 1984, Bloom concentrated on raising her children and stopped making music, at least publically. Like Vashti Bunyan though, Bloom was rediscovered later in life when Richard Linklater used a song of hers in his peripatetic romance Before Sunrise.

Bloom is now three albums into her second run, and her latest Thin Thin Line falls generally into the same class of praise and criticisms that Kelly made of her 2008 record Terror. While Bloom’s voice is full and pleasant and enjoyable to listen to, it’s also a rather archetypal folk voice. What was interesting about her early albums was how that voice played off of Connors’ weird wandering. It was that dynamic that drove those albums and made them interesting beyond either of the two’s singular contributions. Without that dynamic, it’s difficult to say that there’s anything intriguing about Thin Thin Line.

A pretty voice. An agreeable album of ordinary folk tunes. It’s difficult to be truly critical of these things. On one hand, Bloom makes music that seems appropriate. The trajectory of her work makes Terror and Thin Thin Line seem natural. As I pointed out, the dynamic between her and Connors is what drove those early albums, so on her own she sounds much like anyone would expect. On the other hand, in the scheme of things, it’s just simply not that interesting an album. Affable albums aren’t what we end up revisiting. We put them on as background music. We casually read to them. Do the dishes and yardwork. But nothing in albums like this speaks to us on a profound level. Both aesthetically and emotionally, Thin Thin Line feels a bit anachronistic.

And the conundrum is then, is this something to chastise? Maybe Bloom got her avant-garde yayas out when she was young and would rather make agreeable music from now on. I don’t want to begrudge Bloom her homecoming, but it depresses me to see an artist who did make weird, creative work early on and who then naturally became more commonplace. Maybe I’m just reading the existential horror of middle aged leveling off into Thin Thin Line. Maybe I’m just being unfair.

By Andrew Beckerman

Other Reviews of Kath Bloom


Sing the Children Over & Sand In My Shoe / Terror

Read More

View all articles by Andrew Beckerman

Find out more about Caldo Verde

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