Album Review – Jehnny Beth – To Love Is To Live

Former Savages member Jehnny Beth is set to release her debut album To ‘Love Is To Live’ 12th June via Caroline International. This is no Savages though, this is all Beth. Her album and her music. A mash up of classical, Jazz, industrial, post punk and spoken word that span the world of sex, violence, gender stereotypes, emotional fragility and the inevitability of death. This is a record that rides waves of emotions and travels the expanse of human experience.

Opener ‘I am’ starts with a ticking clock and spoken words before and swirling atmosphere when out of the swirling mist of noise comes piano and Beth’s voice. It’s at this point you realise that you are about to hear something very special indeed.

On ‘Innocence’ she tackles religious guilt with the need to be free “and there’s the guilt of course/ because I was raised Catholic” She swerves through harsh vocals on the verse but the sweet innocence comes out for the chorus.

The softly sung intimate feel of Flower . A queer ballad breathlessly sung into the listeners ear. Slaps of electronic drums meet acoustic guitar

‘We Will Sin Together’ “All I want is your sexy eyes, your legs parting to the sky” an industrial collection of voices, piano and rhythmic beats focusing on casual sex.

The album takes a break with A Place Above a spoken word track before the chaotic post punk of ‘I’m The Man’ Beth full of venom as she spits out the lyrics in abrupt short sentences with the second half of this song braking out to a desperate plea over piano chords.

‘The Room’ combines melancholic piano chords and footsteps and spoken words. Beth sounds heart aching here. Low and smooth

‘Heroine’ kicks it up a notch with the use of horns and a slick drum track. Here Beth sounds cool and in control.

‘How Could You’ is angry and frantic and messy echoing the songs theme of a lovers quarrel. Pounding drums and chaotic chainsaw electronic noises allow Beth to get angry.

The French Countryside stands out vocally. Her honeyed voice floating over arpeggioed piano. It allows the listener to appreciate how expressive her voice is. Its the moments of quiet that shine for me. Beth’s ability to capture emotion is truly exceptional.

‘Human’ wraps it all up in an industrial sounding jazz epic. That fades out in a classical rage of strings. The perfect ending to what is staggering achievement. An album of feminine power and experience that doesn’t hide or shy away.

Great production is something I often rattle on about as it’s often something missing in a lot of todays efforts. Tracks like Heroine and Flower are far apart sonically but each sound perfect. Beth’s debut is an antidote to all the average, auto tuned, drum machine dirge out there.

Beth is an artist. She’s a creative force with the talent to match. Words to sing and music to play. She has created a masterpiece here but I don’t think this is the limit. Beth’s fiercely strong feminine attitude which is enough to grab your attention even without the brilliance of her music. Beth is creating something very much needed right now and we all should be listening. Theres so much more to come and I cannot wait.

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