thea gilmore Avalanche ( Compass ) Rating: NNnNN Rating: NNNNN
Wickedly literate Brit singer/songwriter Thea Gilmore's got the UK music press creaming their jeans, and for once the hype's deserved. Barely into her 20s, Gilmore's got the kind of lyrical genius you'd expect from songwriting legends nearing the end of their careers, pulling off a subtly scathing political critique in one breath, a staggeringly fresh romantic couplet the next. Producer Nigel Stonier ensures the sonics are similarly dead on, updating folk rock grittiness with restrained electronic accents and Tom Waits-worthy cabaret. Gilmore's wry spin on day-to-day observations alone is worth the price , but her charming, rough-around-the-edges voice ups the ante. Thank god someone's picking up the smart Britpop torch now that Elvis Costello's dropped it .