Album of the Week: Amanda Palmer, 'There Will Be No Intermission'

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Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer (Allan Amato)
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You may know her as part of The Dresden Dolls, who did 2003's "Coin Operated Boy". Or as, that one artist, who's a bit out there, but made a million through crowd sourcing, literally. Or even as the life partner of famed novelist and public radio fan Neil Gaiman, who stopped by The Current in 2011. But you have never seen or heard her like this before, as she pulls off a masterpiece, so full of authenticity that it would be churlish of us ever to expect anything as raw and powerful, so beautifully rendered as this, ever again from her. It's a once in a lifetime achievement.

There Will Be No Intermission is a perfect title because it's relentless, deep, and emotional art not meant for background music. And actually there are intermissions, there has to be, to let us breath, digest it all. Half the 20 tracks are short instrumental interludes that shift the mood, and separate the scenes of her life. It's double album length with a story arc which ideally should be consumed, considered and reveled in at one sitting. I had the perfect scenario last weekend, a melancholy moment on any Sunday afternoon between the football and cocktail hour, on a bitterly cold day when even walking wasn't an option, I sat in my lounge chair, just listening. You can follow along with a lush booklet that comes with the physical album, or available digitally. It's packed with pictures, lyrics and detailed notes on the making of the album and how she goes about supporting her endeavors, with over 14K patrons funding what she produces via Patreon. This package is certainly value for money. With all the playlists and different curatorial devices available to us these days, we don't tend to allow an artist the time to take us on an album length journey. Try to do this at least once with There Will Be No Intermission. It might not be one you love to listen to every day, or have on in the car driving the kids to school in the morning. I remember having to plan when I had long enough and was in the right frame of mind to listen to Pink Floyd's The Wall, for example, it's heavy!

When an artist who has been known as a little bit edgy, raunchy and non mainstream, writes a lyric about accidents with her baby. "I'm afraid to put these lyrics in a song," you know we're going deep, be prepared. It's a roller coaster ride through childhood memories and present day stories of the life she has led since her last album, spent raising her son Ash (Anthony) along with Neil, who even gets a shout out. Apparently even for two such accomplished artists it's tough being a parent. I have never been one, but was left in tears by the over ten minute long track, "A Mothers Confession", which contains those dangerous lyrics. Everyone who ever has been a parent or child, should hear it at least once. It's destination listening. From a personal point of view she left me sobbing again by way of the next real track called "Look Mummy, No Hands". The title is spelt the English way, perhaps Neil's affect on her I wondered, maybe her Boston roots, but it's the only cover on the album, a song by Dillie Keane who's British. That phrase distinctly resonates with my own childhood, wanting so desperately to be able to do things alone.

That's the genius of Amanda Palmer, making universal work that is so darn personal. She looks and sounds like a Goddess, handing us wisdom from a very high consciousness, but still humbled herself by how hard real life can be for all of us. Thank goodness that there are some intermissions along the way.

Resources


Amanda Palmer - Official Site

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