SARAH MARY CHADWICK
Please Daddy (Rice Is Nice)
Holy hell. I’m only just starting to recover from the (emotional) blows of this album which in essence chronicles the throes – sometimes quite literally the death throes – of something that could be called self-discovery.
Which is not, it feels important to say, the same thing as self-confidence. And definitely not an automatic step to self-forgiveness. Oh no, not around here.
Brutal in its openness and even more brutal in its self-assessments and revelations, Please Daddy looks at life choices almost as furphies sometimes (along the lines of the way to make god laugh is to tell her your plans); recognises pain as neither necessary/cathartic nor impossible to deal with – because after all what choice do we have?; and wonders if we have any right to think we “deserve” good or bad.
“Everyone’s pausing on their way to somewhere else,” she sings in (let’s see them introduce this on radio) My Mouth My Cunt. “And everyone’s indecipherable/But decipherable is hell.”
Along the way it inveigles humour – not all of it dark either – into the occasional story, and mostly comes at us sung as if wrung from Chadwick by a process akin to the old copper wash tub and wringer.
And it has flute.
Like a more ruggedly delineated Joan Wasser or a less lugubrious Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Chadwick walks doggedly between a spare take on soul (the ratcheting up of emotion; the sense of a church, its congregation depleted by heat and devotion, still heaving with feeling; the deep richness of electric piano) and a dissolute afternoon bar (the windows blacked out; the band at the end of the room slow-marching to oblivion; the singer leaning on, more than into, the microphone).
This holds even as Chadwick works herself up into a country-skipping near-frenzy climax of repeating “what I’m feeling, what I’m feeling”, while she braces herself for the unavoidable in the self-explanatory Let’s Fight.
Let’s Fight is the album’s midpoint, a kind of musical, though not necessarily lyrical, break in the weather. Soon enough, after the slow dissolving southern soul of Make Hey, we’re in low sky territory with Nothing Sticks and Chadwick’s voice feels like its lifting itself from a quagmire.
So this is grim and unlistenable? Not at all. I mean, the album finishes with a parping trumpet and upwardly swirling flute in All Lies doesn’t it? Happy days!
More seriously, Please Daddy doesn’t sugar coat anything and there’s pain almost everywhere (the title track is practically an interior monologue debating staying or checking out on life early), but then soul and country don’t ask for happy endings; they just ask that you feel.
And that – deep hurts, micro-pleasures, scars and all - Sarah Mary Chadwick does well.