The Church of Spontaneity
Eleven Women - Steve Kilbey (Foghorn)
COVID’s pervasive impact forced Steve Kilbey to suspend the piecemeal process of assembling another Church album and instead make a solo record. It was done on the fly and from the ground up.
Equipped with a loose but strong batch of songs, a modest budget delivered by PayPal from intimate online shows and willing collaborators in guitarist-bassist Gareth Koch, Roger Mason from the very borning Icehouse on keys and Barton Price (of the Models, Sardine v, Flaming Hands et al) on drums, Kilbey and His Winged Heels delivered “Eleven Women” in just three days.
It was recorded at a new Damien Gerard Studios (relocated from Sydney to the New South Wales Central Coast) and birthed in a burst of creativity that’s involved Kilbey in four albums in the space of a year,"Eleven Women" is the best thing he’s done outside the confines of his usual band.
“Eleven Women” is a coherent and strong record of alternately psychedelic folk and arcane pop songs that’s less polished than the usual Church efforts - and sounds all the better for it. Loosely based on the concept of songs about 11 women, it’s playful and instantly accessible - the sort of record that gets under the skin quickly and lends itself to repeated plays.
The songs equal the performances and there’s a lot to like about a batch of tunes that were done in one or two takes.
“Sheba Chiba” is mid-paced pop with an uplifting melody. “Birdeen” bounces off some light guitars and Price’s toms. “Josephine” is a Coogee sea shanty that reels along on a backbone of mandolin and a breezy Kilbey vocal. The moody “Birdeen” coincidientally sounds like Ian Rilen’s “401”.
“Think of You (For Bessie Bellette”) is a relatively wordy and gentle song of reflection. “Baby Poe” is an exuberant singalong that contrasts with the grown-up “Doris McAllister”, a grand concoction that would be at home on a Church record. Let's hope when it eventually gets recorded, that one will retain some of the raw spontaneity of "Eleven Women".