Crystal Thomas : A Chance In Hell
If necessity is the mother of invention, then personal crisis must be the midwife of artistic inspiration. Without embarking on anything approaching a robust statistical analysis, the overwhelming majority of great songs can be traced back to the emotional dramas of the songwriter, or a protagonist in their immediate circle; conversely, when all’s well, so too are the sharp edges lacking.
Crystal Thomas’s new record, A Chance In Hell, plays out like a cathartic journey through the good, the bad and the downright dysfunctional of the human condition. The Dread tells a sordid tale of lifestyle binges and psychological solitude; Mornings Like This suggests an event of clarity when the fog of excess lifts to reveal a dirty human reality. I Could Die Right Now is replete with chemical metaphor – or is it literal narrative? Whatever We Can Find is an emotive, and cathartic waltz across a floor littered with emotional detritus; on La Tormenta Thomas revisits the spoken-word style of her previous record, as Matt Walker and Spencer Jones provide a suitable volatile climatic sonic backdrop.
La Mort is murderous in narrative and dirty in tone; The Dry renders romantic drought in an ideal torch-song form. Patterson’s Curse is from the heart, stumbling onward like a drunk trying to escape the perpetual haze of cognitive confusion, Dragon Song is a glimpse back into early '80s Sydney pub rock seen through the eyes of a true believer in the mythology and Persimmon Textured Dreams is a collage of tabloid headline puns, self-referential hope and a wickedly enticing New York gypsy punk soundtrack.
A Chance in Hell isn’t a pretty record; the only flowers on offer are those ready for presentation at the almost inevitable moment of mortality threatened throughout the album. But life isn’t pretty – not in Crystal Thomas’s bruised hands, at least.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Persimmon Textured Dreams
If You Like These, You'll Like This: SPENCER JONES, MARIANNE FAITHFUL
In A Word: Honest