Saturday, May 1, 2010

Angie Hart

May, 2010: Adam Gibson took me to see Holidays On Ice about four years ago. Adam is a long-term fan of Angie Hart, and has even written a song about her, ‘Angie Hart Made Me Want To Move To Melbourne’ (he didn’t). The Aerial Maps perform that song, and as erstwhile Aerial Maps member, I’ve sometimes spoken Angie Hart’s part, which is meant to be along the lines of: “Hey, nice suit! Where did you get it? Let’s go to one of Melbourne’s many uncomfortable-but-trendy cafes and have the best coffee in Australia!” See, even writing my lines down now, I can’t resist meddling with them. Sometimes when my mic seemed to be low in the mix, the lines would degenerate into, “Hey, nice suit, wanna fuck?” Adam is a good sport, and I discovered it’s hard to ruffle him - in fact, he likes being ruffled. So we went along to the Sando to gaze at Angie Hart, and I quickly became almost as big an Angie Hart fan as Adam. She has a beautiful voice, and she gives a whole lot in her performance, but - even better - keeps something back for herself. She makes herself vulnerable, but is supremely self-composed. It’s a really interesting combination.
Much as I enjoyed the show, and especially the Angie/Ben Lee co-write, ‘Sand’, which haunted me for days afterwards, I didn’t follow up my new fandom. There was another Angie show at the Sando that I missed because my phone was on the blink and I got Erik’s message a week late. Then my sister rang up a couple of months ago, saying she’d just seen Angie play. One thing I love about my family is their/our memory for detail. There’s never the unsatisfying response, “Oh, I don’t know, just because.” Julia described the show evocatively, quoted slabs from the songs she’d liked best, and provided me with speculations (and evidence) about the current state of Angie’s personal life. So I went out and bought Eat My Shadow. I’m not crazy about the production - it’s too diverse, too embellished. Angie Hart doesn’t need embellishment, and the diversity is in the content and mood of her songs. The songs are top quality. All are co-writes; as the lyrics are so idiosyncratic, inimitable, I would guess the co-writer contributes mainly (or exclusively) to the music and arrangement. The song I had to listen to many times per day became ‘LITTLE BRIDGES’, a co-write with Mark Seymour, and a duet with Bonnie Prince Billy. It brought on a much-needed cry, and going through the lyrics in my mind soothed a very unpleasant anger that was waking me up in the middle of the night. The whole song is naked and beautiful. It makes me shiver. There is nothing obscure in any of Angie’s songs - she wants you to be able to figure out what it was that prompted her to write the song. But they’re completely poetic: “Some people talk, and some people do - there are two kinds of ways to pass the time. I heard, through a door, a conversation; I heard your voice, I heard a name, and it was mine. The picture that you painted was black and white - there were no shining lights or shades of grey. You made me sound like I was a stranger; I should have turned and closed the door and walked away.” I’d like to transcribe the whole song. I feel excited (relieved!) that such an excellent songwriter is living and working in our time and geographical location. “Do you take great comfort in believing all the things you think I am that you are not? Does it put safe distance between us? Was it something that I said that I forgot?”