Great Britain

Kath Bloom: Bye Bye These Are the Days review – beguiling, defiant folk

It can be hard to write about Kath Bloom’s songwriting without drawing on a vocabulary that could diminish her. There is a nakedness to her writing, a beguiling, wondrous quality, as if we might cast her as the Mary Oliver of music.

It can be easy, too, to lump Bloom in with the great gang of cult folk outsiders – her voice, a strange, rapturous thing, lends itself well, as does her biography. After recording a series of albums with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the early 1980s, the Connecticut songwriter stepped back from music until 1995, when her song Come Here was used in the Richard Linklater film Before Sunrise. A period of veneration and rediscovery followed, including a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett, Devendra Banhart.

But the 10 songs on Bye Bye These Are the Days are characterised by their strength, vitality and urgency, and they have a sense of movement and need for speed. Bloom sings of lives exploding, houses on fire, the past following us “like a boulder”. In the extraordinary Leaving Things, she sings: “All I know is we are running / Come on, come on, come on.”

It is a defiant album. While Found Love speaks directly of the state of America, Bloom sets her political stall in the determination of love and partnership in times of change. “You be northern, I’ll be southern / maybe we can meet in the middle,” she sings on Let’s Get Going, then follows it with a Bloomian lick of rebellion: “If we’re feeling this good / People wonder if we should / And they think maybe there’s something we’re stealing.”

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