The third and final album in Carr’s Polish Roots trilogy, with co-producer Rupert Gillett also serving as Musical Director, it was inspired by a dream sequence that led to its themes around water alongside good anvil, love and death, the title, prefaced by a quote from Edgar Rice Burroughs, alluding to her belief in what links the people she’s met along the journey.
It begins, linked to a quote from Orwell’s 1984, with ‘Hero To Zero’, resonant cello giving with to drum machine and synth putterings driving a skittering rhythm on a song which, conjuring thoughts of both early art-pop Toyah and Hazel O’Connor, it speaks of the post-war betrayal of Poland and the rise of Stalinism as she sings”We are the Fucking Marxists/We are the New Nazis/Where is your God now?”
The tempo slows for the pizzicato rhythm of ‘Afterwards’, a cover of the Peter Hammill song from the debut Van Der Graff Generator album before recounting the ‘Miracle On The Vistula’, nervy strings driving along a number which takes its title the 1920 defeat of the Soviets by the Polish army on the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also refers to the Slavic legends of how 8th century Queen Wanda threw herself into river to avoid marrying a German prince.
Sung in Polish, ‘Hej Sokoly’ (Hey There Falcons!) is a mazurka-styled number that was popular among soldiers fighting in the Polish-Soviet war and tells of a Ukrainian girl bidding her Cossack lover farewell for the last time. Shifting geography and eras, ‘Boadicea’, founded on a drum machine hiss and keys and tinted with mandolin and strings, is, obviously, about the legendary British folk hero who fought against the Romans, the gradually welling marching beat song, again reminiscent of the pre-pop Toyah, referencing her supposed burial mound on Hampstead Heath.
Water flows again in ‘The Ladies Pond’, a musical evocation of the 20s and 30s, a song which speaks of love and freedom and is inspired by and about the Hampstead Ladies Pond which, the only all-women swimming pond in Great Britain, has provided safe haven for female swimmers since 1926.
The booklet quoting Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose, carried by drum machine and keyboards, ‘A Beautiful Song For You’, the longest track, is a straightforward song about the healing (on a personal and national level) power of love, a Wilde quote also attached to ‘That Little Devil’, Chris Haigh’s nagging fiddle and accordion driving alonga jittery number about that voice inside that’s always telling you’re not up to it, that you don’t deserve to be loved properly, and serving a reminder that you’re stronger than you think.
Having already sung of the Queen of the Iceni, Carr now turns to Elizabeth I with The Virgin Queene, Wurltizer and cello scampering into the mazurka rhythm for a rousing celebration of her victory over the Spanish Armada as, slipping in and out of Good Queen bess’s voice, she sings “All Hail Gloriana”imagining the monarch slipping into a la la la chorus.
It ends, another booklet quote from Wilde, with the restrained but joyous cello-burnished electro-pop ‘Freedom Song’, celebrating the friends she’s made,, referencing the family estrangement her research caused and the need to be self-reliant (“I’ve been a mother and a father/I’ve been a sister and a brother to myself”), but now the dark skies have cleared and she can “fly into the sun”.
The booklet closes with another timely Orwell quote that, if liberty means anything, “it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” And you do need to hear this.
Link to Fatea page http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/reviews/KatyCarr/