Love And Pain

Having known more than my fair share of them over the years, I have a vested clinical interest in women who are either certifiably insane or, at the very least, vehemently insistent in their refusal to take their prescribed antidepressant medication.

So if you’re like me, you’ll be pleased to hear that Sarah Jane Morris’ new album more than ably plugs any psychic gaps which may rupture on those dark lonely nights when your loved one gets loose and runs rampant on the streets.

I’m not saying she’s the female John Cale or anything like that, because Sarah Jane’s far too eclectic and versatile to wear such a simplistic tag. Nevertheless, her weird and wonky Love And Pain would’ve been right at home on Island Records in the mid-’70s alongside such miasmic masterpieces as Cale’s Fear, Nico’s The End, and Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets.

It gets better: not only does SJM pen snarling, dick-shriveling lyrics that make Dylan and Costello look like toothless eunuchs, she has an amazing, drop-dead voice that can effortlessly become a Big Mama Thornton blues-infused harried harridan (“Mad Woman Blues”); a Rita Jean Bodine throwback (“Love And Pain”); a channeler of Billie Holiday (“Blind Old Friends”); a smooth ’n’ soulful sparkle-gowned Motown chanteuse (“Innocence”); a raspy Bette Davis-style street strutter (“I Get High”); and a sly subversive with the feral cunning of Annette Peacock (“It’s Jesus I Love”).

Healthy company, I know. Which is why Love And Pain is the user-friendly album that Diamanda Galás never got around to recording, but should have. So if the above-noted Mental Advisory doesn’t scare you off, shift over and make room in the “M” section of your record collection — because a new inmate is about to take over the asylum.

Sarah Jane Morris: unmedicated and proud of it.

E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at [email protected].

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