Thea Gilmore has certainly gone for a bigger, bolder sound on her latest album, ‘Regardless’. This is possibly a result of her recent success with the Olympics-backed tune 'London', or possibly just that this was the destination she had in mind all along.
Although less understated and raw than her many earlier albums (Gilmore has, unusually, released 14 albums in just 14 years), there is still plenty to like here.
Her husky, honey voice is as captivating as ever, and her lyrics – for the most part – as introspective and poetic (“I took lessons from philosophers and fools”). Her band sounds very much like it’s expanded, at times to orchestral proportions, which helps to build the dramatic backdrop to ‘This Is How You Find The Way’ and the heart-on-your-sleeve melancholy of ‘I Will Not Disappoint You’.
Title track ‘Regardless’ sees Gilmore hurl herself into a bit of a warble – a mistake that many singers with larger-than-life voices make. Her vocals are much better matched to subtler tracks like ‘This Road’. ‘Love Came Looking For Me’ is a big, shameless love song which is perhaps likeable for its honesty and because Gilmore sounds like she’s genuinely having the time of her life singing it. ‘I Will Not Disappoint You’ is graceful and lyrically lovely, but somehow still manages to end up sounding like something that might end up on a teen drama soundtrack.
With one eye on arena-sized audiences, the Gilmore of ‘Regardless’ sounds more like the 90s mainstream song merchants - Texas, the Cranberries and Sheryl Crow all spring to mind – and less like the offbeat artists she seemed to resemble on her early albums.
‘Regardless’ is clearly very carefully produced although fans may find themselves yearning for the days when her music was more basic, her vocals more gentle, and there was more focus on her lyrics. You get the impression that Gilmore, rather than outgrowing her basic, country-pop sound, is just experimenting with a different type of album. But despite its apparently more commercial sound, it’s hard to identify any particular one that will be promoted to radio airtime. It’s an interesting experiment, but most Gilmore fans will no doubt be looking forward to an album where she returns to her less in- your-face roots.