“The songs on Some Waking Woman come up like ragged wildflowers in the unnameable heel of wasteland between the end house of the terrace and the already-dated concrete and plastic of the new business park. Too much? The songs come up from the hot gap between the weird dissociative dreamscape and the phone-alarm of a slate Tuesday morningtime. They look out from the record with a gaze that’s lost between doe-eyed affection and a murky voyeurism. They’re made of a music caught between the battered nylon-string and a layered orchestration turning between lush and gritty.
It’s between the pottery and the calcified dogshit; between the filthy rebels and the eerie loyalists; between the probable cause of an action not quite either the Frenchman’s crime of passion or the English barfight. It’s a record of between-ness – like, this is just between us, right? It’s the same gap between the ballad and the mumbled apology, the love song and the exasperated sigh. My trousers have been pulled down in the playground again. Tsk. I love you and all of love turns out to be a colossal shitshow. Tsk.
Some Waking Woman isn’t an anthem nor an elegy, although it has moments of both. It isn’t quite in the gutter, but it’s sure as hell not looking at the stars – the album has its gaze locked on the almost-clean livingroom carpet, or the overgrown tarmac country-road corner, or the PVC windowframes slowly colouring-in with dawn. In the hands of O. D. Davey, the ordinary surfaces of a life like the one everyone actually has are made to glimmer weirdly with the inevitable love, loss and resignation underneath them. The comedy underneath it all. The album’s intimate, and the recording even more so: we hear the creak in Davey’s voice, the sound of his tongue moving in his mouth, the air dragged into his lungs. It’s like being inside his head.
These are touching, intricate ballads with melodies of nursery-rhyme sweetness, but as reimagined by a failed nineties gameshow host, humming his old theme-tunes as he staggers back home pissed after closing time. But they’re songs of love, for all that; his daughters haven’t called in months. The sense is that these narrators have more love than they know what to do with; move love than they can trust themselves to handle; more love than they can believe in. Davey handles the flaws and imperfections and fractures of day-to-day living; finds the gap and digs in. This is an attention paid to the agonising and lovely awkward corners of life that don’t get talked about. This is a record as in an LP, but a record too in the sense of a setting down of something true.
Some Waking Woman
Every Rebel Campaign
Two Fingers Flicked
The Way Home
The Blue Note
The Mustard Cloud
A Right Honorable Friend