REVIEW: Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission

Amanda Palmer: Dresden Doll, singer, musician, songwriter, mother, author, wife, speaker – the list goes on.  Amanda Fucking Palmer released her long awaited third album, ‘There Will Be No Intermission’, on Friday 8th March to wide praise, elation and celebration from her thousands of fans and Patreon supporters.  If you are one of them, you may want to avert your eyes…

I won’t pretend to have been familiar with much of Amanda Fucking Palmer’s work prior to this record; I dipped in and out (mainly out) for a while but was, and am, more aware of her Patreon work and The Art of Asking.  From the outset, I doff my not-literal cap to the Queen of Independent Artists and genuinely believe she is forging a path for hundreds of others who seek to break away from the creatively stifling world of copy-and-paste music industry boardrooms.

As a mum and full time worker, I do most of my listening on my commute to and from work. My stomp across a bridge. My willful ignorance of pavement-butchering cyclists and my little quiet time before and after it all gets a bit hectic.  On paper, some gentle and wonderfully-composed orchestral breaks should have been the exact thing I needed on a Monday morning before a string of meetings. But it pissed me off straight away. I had to put some Prince on (Under The Cherry Moon soundtrack FYI).  I originally just assumed that, as the mum of a young daughter, anything remotely resembling the duff instrumentals at the end of Disney soundtracks just gives me a reaction. So I left it a day or five, went back in and stuck with it.

There is absolutely no getting away from Amanda Fucking Palmer’s fucking talent, both her vocals and the way she drives emotion through every word she sings or speaks. And her musicianship.   This is extended to the fourteen plus musicians who contributed to the record, including the notdisneyduffers instrumentals such as All The Things, Congratulations, and Life’s Such A Bitch Ain’t It.

Entwined among the short instrumental interludes are Amanda’s stories of life. And not short stories at that – two going over the ten minute mark and both driving me to More Prince.  As a Mogwai fan, lengthy songs do not faze me: I can get to Cardiff and back before My Father, My King is finished and probably get the kettle on too. But, in this case, it seems to have added to my annoyance at a record which has all the ingredients of one I should love, one which takes us along the bumpy road of her experiences of death, of motherhood, of near-motherhood, of illness – all of which I have experienced and some all at the same time.

She’s absolutely right, life is The Ride and, as she tells us, ‘the alternative is nothingness, we might as well give it a try’. And for almost every one of those journeys, I could have been in the seat next to her; but I still feel a huge disconnection to this record.  Technically, it is wonderful and in some cases (Drowning in the Sound), it nears sublime.  She has everything I could and should look up to in a fellow mother and fighter and she has, as indicated, completely ripped up the rule book for the music and wider arts industries.

There will be one huge intermission now as I don’t intend on returning for more.  Everything that puts me off personally (the pomp, the theatre, the indulgence) will be what appeals to others and what I don’t need to hear through my earphones on my commute will be exactly what another mother, another survivor, does.

And that’s okay. I am a Picky Fucking Bastard, after all.

Words by Lisa Whiteman. 

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