If you believe the retrospective articles and career crate-diggers, every town in Northern England and North America had its own great lost folk talent during the late 1960s and 1970s. There’s a kind of boundless enthusiasm for uncovering these one- or two-album wonders, virtuoso songwriters who got lost, or walked away, or just fell off the radar. You can probably trace it back to the reappraisal of Nick Drake, ultimately; although the efforts of US ‘freak folk’ (ugh) types like Devendra Banhart to connect with their forebears – and the slightly irksome insistence of UK ad-makers to soundtrack their cutesy visuals with sweet-voiced folk songs – certainly helped. Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton, Anne Briggs and more have all found far wider audiences thirty years after the event, too late for some, and KATH BLOOM’s reappearance is a further welcome example.
Blessed with a showstoppingly intimate, fragile voice and a singular style of cracked folk-blues songwriting rich with longing but often immediate and memorable, it’s a surprise to learn the extent of her songwriting partnership with veteran experimental guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors, but also surprising that these songs weren’t re-evaluated sooner. 2009’s two-CD tribute Loving Takes This Course – one disc of Bloom originals, one with the same songs covered by Banhart, Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett, Mark Kozelek and Bloom’s closest contemporary equivalent Josephine Foster among others – coincided with her first widespread public performances in over 20 years, including End of the Road festival. Tours are still fairly rare though, so this one, promising suitably loose interpretations of her beautifully idiosyncratic catalogue, shouldn’t be missed.
Cube Cinema, Dove Street South, Bristol BS2 8JD
Thursday 28th July / 7.30pm / £6
For fans of the song and how to feel it. Kath Bloom (USA) is some kind of legend. She comes from a special place where country, blues and folk are made beautifully translucent and emotive. She has a special gift – her delicate, tender voice yet she retains that raw emotion and hard worn truths that allows each sung word to be felt. Kath is touring with Levi Strom and Jim Reynolds and they most likely will cut loose too.
Local poet souls Men Diamler and Don Mandarin bring their beat songs and rich voices to the table too. Some special night.
The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting. “Beautiful” is the typical response—the kind of beauty that comes from truth, musical and the deeply lyrical. There are no good comparisons, but if you like the deep well of Emmylou Harris, the more poignant lyrics of Lou Reed, the joy of Maher Shalal Hash Baz or even Joni Mitchell you kinda in the right zone. In reality, she’s simply Kath Bloom: vocalist, songwriter and person.
Her albums recorded with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the 70’s/80’s are rare things, full of songs that float and melt into the ether. Impossibly beautiful. In the 90’s Kath’s music was famously featured in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. Since then she has been busy writing and recording to great acclaim. Two new albums in the last few years and she and her songs where also honoured on a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett and Mark Kozelek.
“Bloom sounds like a woman who has spent years in the wilderness… An earthy, unpretentious presence, she can snap a heart like a twig”
Read this great interview for more background/insight:
A QU JUNKTIONS proud presentation