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Pope Innocent X is the fourth album release for Bertie Blackman, and is an amazing array of sounds and adventurous song writing.  At times it really feels like you are holding Bertie’s hand whilst you go through the album with her. If it was the intensity alone, it may be a hard listen, but the songs themselves are so well crafted and inviting, that it really leaves you wanting to hit ‘repeat’.

The music is outstanding, the song writing is outstanding. Reportedly, Blackman went through a childhood regression during the song writing process, and you can really hear that coming through her lyrics and her melodies. The deeply personal and scrutinised journey that she has gone through results in a raw and vulnerable state.  Blackman’s previous works such as Black (2006) seem focussed and deliberate in structure in composition. They were decisive in the message she wanted to convey, whereas Pope Innocent X (PIX) is uncontrived, sincere and even innocent at times. Despite having this self-examination Blackman has given us songs that have openness to them – kind of like she has given you the brush to paint yourself.  The depth of her poetry reveals itself further the more you listen to it, and some smack you in the face straight away – Mercy Killer (Single released  in May 2012) has a pop unpinning with its hooky riffy catchy tune, whereas Stella is more a slow burner.

She worked with François ‘Franc’ Tétaz and by all reports, was a close collaboration. At first listen it is quite a departure from Blackman’s previous releases and has distinct production similarities to Kimbra and Gotye. The strength and potential longevity of this album lends itself to his creative ideas, as much as it does to Bertie Blackmans music.

There are a lot of references to other artists too, which have obviously informed this record’s style. For instance the track Boy is seems a tad Fiery Furnaces– like, and there is a bit of Patrick Wolf/ Bjork in Maps, Kate Bush in Hide & Seek and even Australian Crawl in Shadow Chasers. BUT – if you’re going to make reference to any artists, that collection is pretty damn good, so enough said really.

With this release Blackman has also drawn upon her obvious connection to the visual arts. Her father being Charles Blackman, was friends with Francis Bacon, to whom the album title gives reference. Each song seems like a work of art and I believe there is an actual book of to accompany this album, which is entirely appropriate the production and stories conjured up with lyrics like “using shadows for feet and attic ladders for teeth” makes these tunes very visual ( see some of these visuals on Bertie Blackman’s Facebook page).

Highlights for me are the catchy rhythms and riff of Growl Howl and the light and dark of Maps.

Get it now from iTunes.

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