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Anthea de Milo - Album Review: The Vicar's Daughter

27 Nov 2022 // A review by roger.bowie

Out of a cavernous ballroom in Kurow comes the soulful mourning of Anthea de Milo with an old classic, just written, Just in Case. Anthea de Milo? Who?

Well, you may ask. Just another rough diamond from Lyttelton scrubbing up in a new incarnation of mournful soul. You might know her as Runaround Sue, or Saint Satori, but she ain’t no sartorial saint. It’s none other than Anthea Struthers, the vicar’s daughter, opening her pipes in the analogue soundshell called Sublime. And if you happen to be passing by, and hear a song from the 60s, the vocals a little distant, the guitars way forward, and you think, wait a minute, what the fuck is that? you had better stop and listen… Just in Case there’s a whiskey in there somewhere.

And just in case you are Not Made For Love, stick around, it just gets better. Alienation, loss, heartbreak, despair, maybe I’m not made for love, a big power ballad with guitars and keys twinkling like stars in the background until the music erupts into a psychedelic frenzy and we all flop on the floor waiting for the hit to subside, waiting for the splintering of a broken mind to pile up around us………

That’s the sound of Anthea de Milo, a saint/sinner, good girl/bad girl/born on Friday 13th girl who has found redemption in soul and disciples in Adam Hattaway and Elmore Jones (Adam Hattaway and the Haunters) who have followed her down south to create music of biblical proportion. Adam on guitar, and very clever he is, banishing the equally astounding Elmore Jones to drum and keys just to showcase his talent and not forgetting Michael Kime on bass and Greg Knowles on occasional trumpet, and we get a raw spontaneity only encouraged by a lack of money.

A big blues vamp, plaintive scream, and Anthea is off on a more conventional path, this time a blues stomp and a call and response before the voice takes over and we tremble at its power. Provided it’s played loud. Was that a glass shattering? Mama Got It Bad. Whiskey on the floor.

And now redemption, the bad girl has already sinned enough in the first three songs so it’s time for absolution and a closer Walk with Thee. The arrival of a hymn is such a surprise, the voice now deep and sombre, that we need time to reflect and soak it all up, to discover this not a conventional rendering of an old faithful; this time we have the grating riffs of guitar providing contrast and two more sub contexts played concurrently with bass and horn to make this a compelling gem of a hymn (or her).

Dead Sea returns us to the echo chamber we happened past at the beginning, the sound that drew us in, haunted blues sung by a tormented soul supported by moaning guitar. Dead Sea confessional, maybe I was to blame.

Crazy, no surprises here, just a familiar tune spiced up like Crazy. Anthea loves country, she loves Willie, she loves Patsy, she loves them all. Sensational.

The overall sense of this record is its live-ness, its spontaneity, this is music which has just flowed from the start, the studio is the stage. Elmore and Adam playing licks and riffs obscured by blue smoke.

This Dark Night starts off like another hymn, but this is darker “Back in the shadows playing chase with despair” and builds and builds as Anthea’s voice moves from low groan to high noon and gospel choir.

Prettier Than Morphine is never the pretty girl, the voice once again playing behind the band, intriguing, beguiling, behind the veil, creating a sense of disguise like Orville Peck, there’s a band playing on stage, and someone singing behind a curtain, mystery and intrigue. Someone she knows loves morphine more than her. Never the pretty girl.

Nobody Wins in This Town, with a conventional dark country intro, acoustic, and the voice is at its most poignant, from acid to sweetness in a few short notes. Striking in its simplicity, this is a standout track, before we rock into the finale, Ain’t Gonna Mess.. and the album’s soul rocker leaves us gasping for more.

Anthea de Milo, bitch got pipes (in her own words!). Check out my interview.

The Vicar’s Daughter, fantastic debut solo album from an old soul. Out this Friday December 2nd. CHECK OUT THE VINYL !!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Anthea de Milo

Anthea de Milo (Anthea Struthers) - the vicar's daughter, clown/goddess, mama, saint/sinner/singer and soulful songwriter.

For Anthea, as a child singing for hours every Sunday in the church was her escape into the realms of another world.
Spending Wednesday nights with The Eastern in Lyttelton, Adam McGrath told her, ''you gotta write your own music'', so she did.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Anthea de Milo

Releases

The Vicar's Daughter
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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