Merrill Garbus will be playing at Whelan's in Dublin tomorrow night, and even with our greying hair and inappropriate attire, we would cast aside our age just to hear this woman sing and play her ukelele. Ms Garbus is weirdly wonderful and her second tUnE-yArDs album, “Whokill“, is one of those brilliant pieces of work that falls from the ether all too rarely.
She has lived and travelled in Africa, and the wildnes and abandon of African music has been subsumed into her soul, along with California and Vermont and Montreal and the fact that her parents were big music heads. Westerners usually play at African music – Paul Simon's great “Graceland” is the best example – but Merrill Garbus doesn't play at the African elements of her music: she plays the music, full stop. Give her a tune and a ukelele and with her boyfriend Nate Brenner on bass and you have the world of music. She is an artist because she synthesizes everything she is and has been into her work, and to us that is art. She is also those things which pop music never is: funny; self-deprecating; caustic; wise; unself-conscious. Her music is un-idealized, in the sense that it puts in everything and then manages to synthesize it: there is no pose, just the mad drama of everyday life from a very singular female musician.
Whokill, by tUnE-yArDs, is on 4AD records. The gig is at Whelan's on June 17th