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John Wesley Harding

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Album Review

Encouraged by the positive response to her performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall's 70th Birthday tribute to Bob Dylan, singer/songwriter Thea Gilmore pays further respect to one of her biggest influences, by recording the entirety of his 1967 eighth studio album, John Wesley Harding. No stranger to the concept of the covers album (2004's Loft Music) or interpreting the folk legend's work ("I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine" appeared on 2002's Songs from the Gutter), the Oxford-born chanteuse appears entirely comfortable wrapping her ethereal and breathless tones around the 12 tracks that she describes as Dylan's "most sustained and satisfying record." Produced by husband Nigel Stonier, Gilmore mostly opts for the subtle homage approach than any radical reworkings, simply substituting acoustic guitar for mandolin on the title track, replicating the languid country sound of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and the rockabilly grooves of "Down Along the Cove," and slightly ramping up the guitars on the jangly Byrds-inspired take on "I Pity the Poor Immigrant." But while there aren't any Hendrix-style reimaginings or Guns N' Roses-esque bombastics, the album still offers enough variation from the source material to avoid descending into pure karaoke. Her delicate autumnal signature sound is very much in evidence on the slightly funereal treatment afforded to "Dear Landlord" and the sleepy shuffle of "All Along the Watchtower"; "The Ballad of Frankie Lee & Judas Priest" and "Drifter's Escape" are given a driving Amy Macdonald-style folk-rock makeover, while "The Wicked Messenger" is turned into a frantic, foot-stomping slice of harmonica-driven barroom blues. Covering such a cherished and well-respected body of work is a brave move, and while Gilmore was always going to struggle to make these iconic songs her own, John Wesley Harding is a valiant attempt to respectfully add a slightly modern sheen to the 40-year-old record, which should silence any Dylan aficionados waiting to cry foul. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

gilmore rocks

i say get this album and all the other ones she puts out !!!!!! I am not biased though she has the same last name as i do but her voice is like and angel on earth. I saw her in northern virginia about 7 years ago or so and she is nice as she sings so if you ever see her in your area please go see her and like i say check out all her records. SHE ROCKS ON ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER.


Born: 1979 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Thea Gilmore was born to Irish parents in 1979. While coming of age in North Aston, Oxfordshire in England, she ignored the new wave reign of the '80s and instead began to seek out her parents' Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell albums. Later, she found comfort in the work of Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and the Replacements, naturally absorbing the intelligence behind each artist's work. Gilmore began writing poetry and short stories to amuse herself amidst her conventional surroundings,...
Full Bio
John Wesley Harding, Thea Gilmore
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