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Painted Lady – Jon Boden

Oct 26, 2016

Painted Lady is an expanded version of Boden’s first ever solo album, first released in 2006. The reissue comes  hard upon the heels of the final performance of folk phenomenon Bellowhead, a band in which Boden served as frontman for the last twelve years.
Like most people I know, I thought Bellowhead were pretty darn great and it can be difficult at times to disassociate Boden with the band equivalent of a punch in the face (I mean that in a really, really good way). But I have fallen in love with Painted Lady big time.
This Boden is a more reflective incarnation; many his songs are reminiscent of atmospheric 90s indie-pop, others feel almost Bowie-esque and some might easily pass as 80s power ballads – others could have stepped straight out of the folk tradition.
The first track ‘Get a Little Something’ has a bluegrass-meets-later-Beatles feel. ‘Blue Dress’ is a gentle love song full of cigarettes, graveyards and passion. Later on, ‘Win Some Lose Some Sally’ is an electric, synth-laden bonanza, building tension, levelled out by the the gentle, country-sounding ‘True Love’, complete with orchestral violins. ‘Painted Lady’ is unpredictable and experimental; ‘Drinking the Night Away’ is boozy and bluesy.
If this wasn’t enough, the bonus tracks are also fantastic; ‘All Hang Down’, an electrifying version of the popular sea shanty, is perhaps a nod to his Bellowhead days. While ‘Old Brown’s Daughter’ is pared down and traditional, in keeping with the very best traditional folk singers. ‘I Want to Dance with Somebody’, a cover of the iconic Whitney Houston hit is slowed to a waltz complete with grandfather clock chimes, jingling bells and echoing vocals, rendering the song langorous and lonely.
I find it hard to tell you how much I Iove this album – it’s got everything you could possibly want and then some. Gentle, theatrical, sentimental, experimental, mad, innovative and wonderful, all with a firm nod to the folk tradition – this is something pretty special.
Claire Rakich

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