15 August 2013

15th August - Michelle Shocked's Short Sharp Shocked

Artist – Album: Michelle Shocked – Short Sharp Shocked
Released:  15th August 1988
Sounds Like: What the folk?!
Short Sharp Shocked by Michelle Shocked probably stands as one of the most misleading albums ever. With a name like that and a cover like that *points upwards*, this can only be a punk album, right? Maybe a bit of Eighties goth? Hard rock? No? …FOLK?! Get out of here!

It seems that Michelle Shocked obtained her wicked moniker whilst she was in her punk rock phase, residing in dilapidated San Francisco buildings and sticking it to the man. By 1988 though, she’d calmed down enough to weave rootsy yarns about her East Texan childhood (although the unnamed album closer served as a potent reminder of not too long ago left behind heaviness.) Shocked’s conversational tone is a real pleasure, and the music, although possessing of a typical Nashville lilt, is nonetheless positive and refreshing. ‘Anchorage’, the letter from a long lost friend, is the perfect encapsulation of the album’s merits – warm, nostalgic and witty. ‘When I Grow Up’ was described by Robert Christgau as unclassifiable – that’s only because it was 15 years ahead of the alt-folk movement.

The album’s title is a clear reference to the behavioural science phrase short, sharp shock – punishment or treatment that’s speed and severity is designed to prevent future misdemeanours. Another, altogether more passive form of treatment is to trawl patiently through one’s childhood memories in order to find the root of the problem. Short Sharp Shocked is, in album form, the sound of an artist pleasantly and surprisingly opting for the psychiatrists chair rather than the electric one.

Albumaday... rating:7/10

1.       When I Grow Up – 3:34
2.       Hello Hopeville – 2:55
3.       Memories of East Texas – 3:35
4.       (Making the Run to) Gladewater – 3:05
5.       Graffiti Limbo – 3:39
6.       If Love Was a Train – 4:07
7.       Anchorage – 3:24
8.       The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore – 4:10
9.       V.F.D – 2:49
10.   Black Widow – 2:44

Listen to ‘Anchorage’: On Spotify or something, I can’t find it on Youtube! 

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