“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a singer whose haunting melodies have elevated many intensely rocking records by one of the best bands in the universe into masterpieces. Much like The Fall, Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees/OCS feature a rotating cast of high-functioning musicians around the nexus of band leader and mastermind John Dwyer, but one person that’s contributed to their considerable canon more than any other, is Dwyer’s vocal counterpoint, and prolific melodic writing partner Brigid Dawson. Brigid has sung and played on in this humble writer’s opinion are the band’s finest records – a top notch triptych “Floating Coffins”, “Mutilator Defeated At Last” and “A Weird Exits”, but that’s not even the half of it, including early masterpieces like “Castlemania” up to the most recent offering “Face Stabber”.
Brigid, a UK native via San Marin in California has also sung with Ty Segall and The Dodos, but right now, at this moment, she’s got a new band of her own, with a clever play on Frank Zappa & The Mothers Invention – Brigid Dawson And The Mothers Network, and a remarkable first record called “Ballet of Apes” on Castle Face Records with beautiful sleeve art that’s part Lee “Scratch” Perry “Super Ape” meets “The Harder They Come” soundtrack (replete with a surreptitious pic of Rod Stewart), featuring her trademark lithe lullabies and contralto lilt, so despite these wildly oscillating times in an unpredictable world, it’s a spark of unmitigated joy and hope that sees Brigid on these pages. The warmest of welcomes to VS, Brigid Dawson!
“Ballet of Apes” was recorded in a series of sessions with Castle Face friends and accomplices – in Australia with Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring), in San Francisco with Mike Donovan (ex Sic Alps/now Peacers), Shayde Sartin (ex Fresh & Onlys/lifetime ringer) and Mike Shoun (ex Oh Sees/Peacers), and in Brooklyn with instrumental nutters Sunwatchers who have featured Dawson in their number on a previous occasion.
Check out this enticing sample – interplanetary album opener and self-explanatorily titled “Is The Season For New Incarnations”.
Much like many of the Oh Sees oeuvre, there is a swirling mystical feel of ley-lines, runic hobgoblins and miscast spells, and the album takes that bands dark psych-folk alter ego (the origins of the band itself occasionally revisited in the likes of OCS “Memory of a Cut Off Head”) and makes it specifically Brigid – dripping with emotion, like Nina Simone had hung out on Haight-Ashbury then zig-zagged down Lombard Street in a foggy stupor.
Evocative, shimmeringly maudlin, deliberate but never torpid, like one of the song titles on “Ballet of Apes”, Brigid Dawson is “Heartbreak Jazz” incarnate. And she has chosen a tune by a brilliant and oft-selected artiste on VS (fifth time, the most other than John Cale), so without further ado…
“here is my “song for ewe” for those folks at Velvet Sheep.
Alice Coltrane – Album – Turiya Sings – Song – Jagadishwar
I’ve just discovered this album where Alice is singing, how lovely, I’ve been a fan always of her playing, and her huge expansive musicality, but hearing her sing floored me. I chose the song Jagadishwar, but the whole album is great, I hope you all enjoy it.
Stay well xx Brigid”
MANY THANKS TO BRIGID AND TO SIMON KEELER AT FORTE MUSIC DISTRIBUTION
“Ballet of Apes” by Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network is out on 22 May on Castle Face Records
And if you love Thee Oh Sees check out this “song for ewe” choice by Tim Hellman (also of VS favs Flat Worms)
Or this one from Mike Donovan from Peacers who played on “Ballet of Apes”…