Mary Coughlan: House of Ill Repute (Shock)

 |   |  <1 min read

Mary Coughlan: Love is Extra
Mary Coughlan: House of Ill Repute (Shock)

This remarkable Irish singer who soaked her life and songs in whisky at the start of her career slipped from sight for a number of years but here returns with an album that should be counted among her best.

In 2004 at the end of a 13-year relationship she ended up in New Zealand (according to the liner notes) where she felt quite at home and so later returned with Erik Visser who had helped helm her career -- especially when it was almost rudderless -- and started considering recording the material on this earthy album.

Coughlan is a fearless singer, and many of the songs here are delivered with such raunchy committment you'd be forgiven for thinking they are autobiographical. Yet she only wrote one song here, but when she gets under the gypsy-jazz style of the title track, the raw emotions of Kirsty MacColl's Bad ("I've been an awful woman all my life, a dreadful daughter and a hopeless wife . . .") or the cabaret raunchiness of Love is Extra or Tootsies ("mother's pregnant in some clinic, brother Ernie is a spliff . . .") you realise you are in the presence of a rare singer -- and those comparison with Billie Holiday aren't fatuous.

Especially when she can also sing something as moving as In Your Darkened Room and its deep sense of someone who has lost themselves along the way and can't understand quite how or when.

Coughlan is a rare one. 

 

Share It

Your Comments

Angela - Dec 1, 2008

Sounds like a raunchy woman cabaret artist I heard once in a Spiegeltent and wish I'd remembered her name.

Thorny - Dec 20, 2008

I really liked this braver sound from her. She has a truly amazing voice and when matched with good lyrics it is magic. I can't help but think much of her work is autobiographical. Good sound and back to basic arranging.

Jamie - Dec 21, 2008

"Tired & Emotional", Mary's 1985 album, has long been one of my favourite albums. I've bought every one since, too, and felt a quiet dissatisfaction, none had quite the rollicking, barroom appeal of my first encounter with her...until now. The opening bars of The House of Ill repute set a tone that this new album holds up for it's entire length. "Bad" is all that I want from Mary, my stand out track, but she has written 13 songs that all manage to engage me, entertain me, and, most importantly, let me inside her world for close to an hour.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Ellis Island Sound: The Good Seed (Peacefrog)

Ellis Island Sound: The Good Seed (Peacefrog)

At last! I received a preview copy of this wonderful instrumental album almost six months ago and have been waiting ever since to post it. And in that time I kept changing my mind about which... > Read more

Robert Wyatt: This Summer Night (Domino)

Robert Wyatt: This Summer Night (Domino)

If you didn't know Wyatt and came to this soulful, slightly funky and utterly charming single by Robert Wyatt -- released in advance of the reissue of nine of his albums  -- you'd never think... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BOB MARLEY ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH (ESSAY, 1991): Legacy of a righteous rebel

BOB MARLEY ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH (ESSAY, 1991): Legacy of a righteous rebel

There are no written records of the event, but we can speculate: the interior of the Tuff Gong Studio in Jamaica on a hot afternoon in 1980. Bob Marley and the Wailers are putting the final tracks... > Read more

Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (ECM/Ode)

Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (ECM/Ode)

Swedish pianist Stenson is one of those rare individuals who extends the contract of improvisation by deliberately drawing on diverse source material, which gives him and his musicians different... > Read more