Summer Sunday Flashback Nine: Kath Bloom
(Another one from the early and late stream-and-read site Paper Thin Walls, published in June or early July 2008. The Myspace link still works!)
Kath Bloom “Terror”
from Terror (Chapter)
folk/folk-rock // Out Now
Long before blogs, Kath Bloom was one of those diligently observant folkie singer-songwriters, usually female, who roamed town to town, moment to moment, and sought to bring us the news, of inner and outer events, in a coherent yet-non-reductive way. Her first recordings were with avant-moodist guitarist Loren MazzaCane Conners, in the mid-70s, and four of their albums will soon be re-released by Chapter Records, as two-disc sets with bonus tracks. (You can also experience her vulnerable yet commanding “Come Here,” on the soundtrack of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise; and http://www.myspace.com/kathbloomchapter provides a heady overview of Bloom’s tunes.)
Terror carefully excises from recent pages in her diary. Her voice has been described as “quavering,” but it’s more the sound of continually re-gaining balance. A sound (and writing style) that can startle the listener, as in Bloom’s characteristic development of “Something To Tell You,” which she begins by asking, “One more time before you go, I want you to give it give it, give it real slow, and we’ll see how far this love go.” Forthright, but melancholy, nice—then she takes it further, “When you’re walking home later, down the street, and a pair of lonely, ey-y-y-y-es, you chance to meet—I want you to give it! Give it! Give it real slow, and we’ll see how far this love can go.” The verse starts out almost on tiptoe, then fear shivers down to where she pounces, rolls “you” and herself and all lonely eyes toward something else. It’s her way of life, of caution and impulse, of preparation and travel. (To avoid cliches, let’s not call this song an anthem, but it’s very inspiring.)
The approach of “Terror” is somewhat less typical, but it does wake up walking: “Further on the dawn is breaking. I can’t believe how much this life is taking from me.” Yet she’s already entering, witnessing, enduring, picturing a shared fragment of a dream: “Then we hear the rabbit scream, life is given, terror is in the air, and I can’t find you anywhere…honey child it all comes down to this, sadness works the bliss, madness works the joy…heading for the next disaster, could we go a little faster…take my hand come on let’s brave it, open that door, I can’t stay anymore.” You can imagine what a maelstrom of over-performance and/or over-production this could entail, but it’s closer to the opposite, coming down to strumming, toe-tapping, timekeeping, while spotting old and new losses and possibilities, on the map that’s still shaking, still unfolding, “through the woods down to the pond, there was a path here now it’s gone.”
Kath Bloom on “Terror”__________________________________________________
Did it seem to emerge all at once?
A few elements of the song showed them over a month or so. I record stream of conscience (sic) on a tape deck sometimes, or I hum while I am moving, cleaning, thinking. And at some point, it must have taken on a life of its own and spilled out. I cried with that one coming out, because it was always about Jack. Jack is my 17-year-old son, diagnosed with schizophrenia finally this month, after 14 months of hospitalizations and occurrences. I probably nit-picked about a few lyrics or something afterwards, but not much. And crying isn’t always a sadness, it usually is a release as the song is born.
Were the results different than expected when you began writing and recording?
I think it came out pretty raw. There are things I like and dislike about it.