S – is for Michelle Shocked – Deep Natural

Monday 28th November

Michelle made three brilliant and quite successful albums in the late eighties and early nineties; she had apparently planned them, songs and arrangements long ago.  Then she had a dispute with her record company and they parted company, though Michelle retained the rights to all her music – a rare thing in the music business.  She released an album on a private label called “Kind Hearted Woman”, and it was a world away from her first three records.  This is a grief-drenched record with bareley an uplifting note on it.  Songs like Stillborn and Grace tell of infant deaths, and there are songs about the hardship of working the land.  I am not sure what caused this shift in mood, but though a sad album it has incredible beauty, and the songs, as usual, are brilliant.

She then released a second real Masterpiece “Deep Natural”.  The sound of this record is quite unlike any of her earlier albums and anything else as well.  It is laid back and bluesy and a bit jazzy with touches of Soul and Gospel.   The whole feel of the record is of a vibrant joyful release, full of beautiful guitars and quite a lot of brass, uplifting songs and gentle moody ballads.  Best songs are ‘Forgive to Forget’ (the more I forgive, the more I forget – holding on to the past is my only regret) and ‘That’s So Amazing’.  Almost every song is perfect; a true masterpiece and a mature album.  Well, Michelle would carry on, far from the Music-making machine now, with her own label and in total control.

She released a trio of records, one brilliant ‘Mexican Standoff’ one quite good ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and a record of children’s songs – as one triple album or to buy separately.  In total control she may have been suffering from nobody else’s input;  not that that would have bothered our ‘Chelle.  A few years later and a conversion to born-again Christianity saw her embroiled in an anti-gay rant, which she insists wasn’t – but the American Media had a field day, she also released an awful half-live gospel album – the less said the better.

But Michelle still had at least one great album left in her.