Kath Bloom and Loren Connors – Sing the Children Over

Kath Bloom and Loren Connors – Sing the Children Over/ Sand in My Shoe (Chapter Music 2CD)

Kath Bloom and Loren Connors met in 1976 in New Haven, where Connors worked as a janitor at Yale, while Bloom practiced guitar and on occasion worked at a local cemetery. Both Connecticut natives, over the next eight years, they produced at least ten LPs, singles and cassettes together, released in tiny editions on Connors’ own labels Daggett and St. Joan, four of which are being reissued by Australian label Chapter Music. The sound on these first two reissues is intimate and alive, familiar to anyone already acquainted with Connors’ guitar sound, as it evolves from the scratchy dissonance of his nine volume Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations (1979-1982) to his more recent snaky electrified abstractions. These are songs, blues and folk, complete with Connors’ grunts and moans as he accompanies Bloom, haunted perhaps in the same way Connors and Bloom haunted the abandoned industrial spaces of New Haven that they lived in at the time. This is the blues according to Emily Dickinson, Blind Willie Johnson relocated to a slum in New England, the same cold wind blowing, the broken windows different. Sing the Children Over, featuring a mixture of traditional songs and Bloom originals, was the first LP released by the duo, and sounds transitional, exploratory. 1983’s Sand in My Shoe, is a masterpiece from beginning to end – the songs are all by Bloom and she and Connors have a powerful rapport, coiled around each other, but breaking off at strange moments, like passionate but doomed lovers.
Although Bloom is obviously a predecessor of the current generation of experimental folk singers like Coco Rosie, Joanna Newsom and Josephine Foster, and has a similar mixture of fragility and strength, her singing is emotionally direct, and without affectation. Thankfully there’s little of the regression towards childhood that characterizes the current generation, tho there’s plenty of desperation, madness even, in songs like “My Stupid Little Heart”. At the same time, Bloom also sounds quite different to Connors’ later collaborations with Suzanne Langille (especially the remarkable Haunted House records) which are much more sensuous, langorous and erotically charged. Bloom has continued to perform on and off, and her recent Terror (also on Chapter Music) indicates that her voice is still powerful – but lyrically and musically, the new songs sound like standard folk club fare and in a way they reveal how remarkable the collaborations with Connors are.

Originally published in The Wire, 2008.

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