Loving Takes This Course
A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom
I was first introduced to the music of Kath Bloom by New Zealand experimental pop and soundscape master Alastair Galbraith, who expressed his admiration for her work in a New Zealand National Radio interview. Coming from Galbraith, this is high praise and also a testament to Bloom’s obscure, scattered impact on artists across the globe.
Kath Bloom got her start in music in the ’70s and is probably best known for her cult albums with avant-garde guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors. Bloom comes across like a more soulful Joan Baez with the lyricism of Joni Mitchell and the Tin Pan Alley sophistication of Carole King. This tribute makes her impact on the underground folk resurgence of recent years quite evident. Her influence seems particularly strong on such luminaries of new folk as Joanna Newsom and Josephine Foster, who contributes a respectful and surprisingly subdued version of “Look at Me” to this set. Bloom and Connors’ voice-and-guitar duets sound like the blueprints for some of Foster’s most beautiful and passionate work.
This collection offers not only a CD’s worth of covers, but also a second disc of the Kath Bloom originals. It serves as an excellent introduction to Bloom’s work and the current artists who name themselves fans. Many of Bloom’s songs are fragile and seemingly untouchable, but several of the artists on this collection achieve great success in interpreting her work. This is a loving and thoughtful tribute, but at times I found myself longing for a more diverse range of artists to further show the timelessness and universality of Bloom’s work. Overall, it’s a very nice listen of mostly faithful covers. Corrina Repp and Devendra Banhart are among the few artists who truly make the songs their own, the former with her eloquent and expansive take on “Fall Again” and the latter with his odd spin on the already whimsical “Forget About Him.”
If most walk away from this collection enamored by Bloom’s originals yet perhaps not completely won over by some of the remakes, then I’d say this tribute would be a great success. With the current renewed interest in American and British Isles folk music, the time has never seemed more right for a wider appreciation and celebration of Kath Bloom’s recorded work.
Kath Bloom: www.myspace.com/kathbloomchapter