priya thomas is blood heron (renovation tracks)

by Priya Thomas

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about

"I had nothing to my name, but my blood was liquid gold" - Priya Thomas

"In the liner notes to her stunningly uncrafty new album, singer-songwriter Priya Thomas writes of coming off the road, dusty and heavy and "smelling like a New Mexico hotel." Her stuff was still in boxes; the house in ramshackle shape. She set about renovation, but it wasn't just walls and fixtures that needed work. Priya Thomas is Blood Heron is an unguarded album of betrayal, cutting losses and creating things from scratch.

Opening track Your Guitar, My Undoing begins abruptly, its drawling strum putting Rickie Lee Jones in the dark dream-pop universe of Mazzie Star. Thomas, on her fourth album, is not one for plans: Come-and-go boys are fleeting, like storms. The memorable Had I Known, I Would Have Declined - jagged, ragged and Dylan-like - is an unsent letter to a past lover, with Thomas thinking clearly in hindsight. After the baptismal Dakota From the Hebrew, the angry Vigilante is strident, with monstrous guitar noises.

The Montreal-raised and Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist wrote the material for Blood Heron while on tour. Farewell Creek is southern-Gothic ukulele blues, while Wine, Moonshine, Sugar Beams has a Mojave drone. "To the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat" is a relentless chant from someone whose boat does not go merrily down streams.

Upon finishing the tour, Thomas unpacked her instruments and recorded on analog tape without much forethought. The sounds are at once grungy and graceful, with an omnichord's pretty tings, for example, heard amid tougher tones. Although there are a few folks involved, mostly it's Thomas, with co-producer Stephen Pitkin of Elliott Brood on drums on half the tracks.

She doesn't sound like him, but Thomas reminds me of the late Chris Whitley, a rough-cut roots rocker who didn't so much perform his music as exude it. It's raw stuff - all guts, bones and jugular veins - and it's something to hear it build from nothing."
- Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail, Disc of the Week

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"Spitting out the lyrics the way Dylan spewed out "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," Thomas manages to come across as both seething and perfectly composed."
-John Sakamoto, The Toronto Star, Anti-Hit List

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"...a potent and beautiful record. Songwriters of any stripe can only hope to release a record as strong as this.”
-Bill Adams, Ground Control Mag LA

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"She can write uncompromising, half-broken songs as good as Tom Waits or anyone else....This is an extraordinary album."
- berkeleyplaceindie.blogspot.com

-----------------
(taken from the back cover of Blood Heron)

HOW I BECAME BLOOD HERON
things were still in boxes.
i had nothing to my name; but my blood was liquid gold. we got off the road and i was disoriented. i smelled like a new mexico motel, dusty and heavy, pining for something;
staring in the rearview mirror at some hard won border. i had a hard tan line across my legs, red and sun swollen, splitting me up; in a perfect half to be specific. then we got on a different road that
took us to a house without walls, without bathrooms; with its fiberglass guts all spilled and spotting the splitting floors. sure, there were gaps
in my reasoning - and long silences in the green van framed by epic swampland in which i never heard from people. after a while, people stop talking. or maybe there was just no point in talking. words
sometimes being pointless things. in the end, every word became a so stupid you couldn’t have scripted it... in the colorado stretch, where it started as palpable silence, and i wanted things i couldn't describe.
at first i thought i shouldn't tell anyone even if could say something. sometimes i couldn't even remember. i thought i could remember if i built a room out of orphaned instruments - maybe things people
couldn't find a home for....a drum on its ear like a beached whale; a red toy horn, a megaphone, some pots and pans, a steel bucket given by a well-meaning friend who wanted to see me make something out
of this; some red castanets, maybe a tambourine and my brother's first ukelele - now very well warped.... (everything was in boxes) Still, these prodigal castoffs, found objects made sounds.
loud enough to remember the red, yellow and green chinese sticks - loud enough to forget the stones hitting my window and midnight drive to the st. lawrence seaway locks. i would go in there and think about the gaps between the sound of the rocks and the driving. every day that was my world.
i hit record on the analog 1/2 inch and never thought once about why; and i had no plans. nothing was right. but by then it seemed to me that nothing would ever be right. i tried to say these dots just don't connect. things were strange as a koan and i forgot meaning i didn't care about fixing the warping neck, and i didn’t feel the splintering floor. there was no tuning, no timing; i wrote nothing down.
i just drew into it blindly, flew into the vapour.
staring at that tan line. i did. and did and did. trying to make some thing out of this absence.

credits

released October 28, 2008

Recorded to 1/2" analog by Priya Thomas
Produced by Priya Thomas, except tracks 1,4,5,8,9 produced by Priya Thomas and Stephen Pitkin.
Mixed by Stephen Pitkin and Priya Thomas
songs written and arranged by Priya Thomas
mastered by Stephen Pitkin, Record and Play Music, 2008
all rights reserved, boilingpt/socan 2008.

license

all rights reserved

tags

Track Name: your guitar, my undoing
Your Guitar, My Undoing (words/music p.thomas)

saw a tabloid of you today
you were bent out of shape
like an orphan cast out, scowl on your mouth
i told the man on the corner who sold me that newspaper
i was going home now and i was staying south
i ran into a friend today, said you asked how i was doing
it’s funny all the things that change
in all your comings and goings,
i changed my hair to a saddle brown,
this is how it will stay till our next showdown,
are you coming home now?
and are we heading south?

you gave me your guitar, my undoing,
when you threw it into my hands
it sang fickle girl, you cannot stay,
you of all people should make no plans
his song will get under your skin, but boys will be boys
like storms, the velocity of your joys,
as you well know, they come and go,
so let it go, it’s time to go home now

i said, i ain’t losing my bearings to your bandit tribe
your stolen hearts and blueprints for crime
like bonnie and clyde
but you fell into my arms like a comet,
leaving a fiery trace
every sight, sound and taste,
falling to its rightful place

i hit bottom after the holiday, after we blazed that trail
down to the swamp and the black beach,
tired and cleaned out when everything had failed,
you were gone with the summer
that brought the smoke without the fire
you come to know what you’ve got
by all the things that you’ve lost

it’s been some time now
i thought i’d run into you
friends say they’ve seen you
that you’ve changed, i wouldn’t even know you
if i had another chance i might change my steps
yeah maybe i’d take the risk,
maybe i’d even stick around a bit
before shutting it down

you gave me your guitar, my undoing,
when you threw it into my hands
it sang fickle girl, you cannot stay,
you of all people should make no plans
his song will get under your skin, but boys will be boys
like storms, the velocity of your joys,
as you well know, they come and go,
so let it go, it’s time to go home now, it’s time to go home now.
Track Name: had i known, i would have declined
now, first of all for clarity
i described events as they happened
as far as i can see
i’ve been pretty boilerplate on this.
and there’s no point now
and i do question your intentions
oh and thanks for personally
informing me of your new developments

had i known, had i known,
that you signed on as a martyr i would have declined

gratitude, right...
thanks for your selflessness to the cause
honey i know i’d be nowhere
without your charitable acts of kindness
i know you really want to help
but it’s ill-advised,
and i’m not inclined to take donations,
i’d advise you pair up that love
with some registered institutions

had i known that you signed on as a martyr,
i would have declined

as for these feelings blowing over, well, honey they always do
ain’t that the beauty of this love, comes but once in a lifetime
no matter what you will do
but i’ve lived my life long,
and so this is just another curve, another blow
but my style is to lay my cards on the table,
and so i have done,
...just so you know

had i known that you signed on as a martyr,
i would have declined

don’t get me wrong,
my many thanks, my many thanks
but don’t you come courting me now
with that carrot on a stick - like you know what makes me tick
you and your mercenary functions...
do i look like i need your sanctifications?

had i known, had i known
that you signed on as a martyr,
i would have declined
yeah i would have declined.
Track Name: dakota from the hebrew
america invert yourself,
you’ve got yourself a raw nerve
some kind of aching tooth
in this world there are no mothers and fathers
no one has come before you
infant you know only you
can undo the things done unto you

come to the water and start again

baptism in the Jordan as the world melts
and the river’s on fire
come again now, read Dakota from the Hebrew
they come to convert you,
it’s 1872
feel your history mark your life,
your heart is a landmine, a genocide
History is not fair, but throw your arms open anyway
be only brave, wear a feather in your hair
for those who came before you
for those that you never knew
when you were desperate
they said you had it in you. and you knew

come to the water and start again
Track Name: vigilante
oh honey i fell for you
there’s no doubt
and everyone knew
but it didn’t have to go
some way it wasn’t meant to
just cos i fell for you
well i heard all the things that you said about me
not sure why you’re dissing me
you know that i’ve always been true

i heard the words from your lips
i took the gun from your hip
i’m gonna have my day yet, and go flying
flying in the face of the almighty
all the fires we could start
if we tore the cage off that heart
we’d go flying, flying, flying in the face of the almighty

don’t leave me, and if you leave me,
there’s a piece of you that i’m bound to keep
like a confession
hey do you forgive me?
if i’m not all the things you believed i’d be
he thinks i lost myself to you,
i let you take me down too
but my soul was taken baby long before you
i threw it to the weeds
and the southern creeper trees
the catfish, mud and silt
and the salty bayou

i took the words from your lips
i’ll take that gun from your hip
i’m gonna have my day yet
and go flying
flying in the face of the almighty
oh all the fires we could start
if we tore the cane off that heart
we’d go flying, flying,
flying
Track Name: gunpowder heart
i know you don’t believe this
but i can be your friend
i remember you well, you will never fall
so don’t you pack your bags now
leaving won’t right these wrongs

come now with your heart in your throat
come to me with your heart in your throat
come now with your heart in your throat once more

i’ve known dying,
it ain‘t much of a way of living
and i’ve known longing
makes heartbreak out of waiting
got a gunpowder heart
fire in my cheek
still learning how to live with this heat

come now with your heart in your throat
come to me with your heart in your throat
come now with your heart in your throat once more
once more, baby please once more, just once more

you’ve planted edelweiss on the south shore snow
there’s blankets all winter
for what your hands worked to grow
your mother was crushed by air raids
and a rush of falling stones
on an ordinary day,
her hands pruned washing all your clothes
i long for you to talk to me.
you come to me now like a child
i long for you to tell me of your deliverance

come now with your heart in your throat
come to me with your heart in your throat
come now with your heart in your throat once more
once more, baby please once more, just once more
Track Name: o holy texas
o holy texas did i forsake you?
you never gave me much
cos you never told me nothing
when the night started spinning
and your stars came unglued
you threw your head back into the bloodshot sky
just like a moth to the light

this engine takes us down with a will of its own
we thought we were burning dear,
you smell like gasoline and misconstrued fear
o holy texas, was i marked for life
by your duplicitous silence,
this bullshit babble, your aching travel

you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down

trying hard to shake
...this sawdust
trying hard, trying hard,
trying hard, trying hard,
trying hard, trying hard
trying hard, trying hard

by Jasper i learned to see with my own eyes
and i knew you could not stand behind
the words i heard you write,
and i know you’ve since changed
Cain walks again,
and this hunger is the same,
i’ve seen my shadow at the reigns,
it’s still hollerin my name

you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down
you made me live
you let me down
Track Name: lit lightning
i'm not one to let you fade, i’d rather amputate
ghost pain, gasfire around your heart
wound left in your suburban heart

you lit me up ,you lit me up
lit lightning
you lit me up, you lit me up

i know you know from a broken heart
you don’t fool me with your ease and grace
you’re as out of order, unhinged and out of place

you lit me up, you lit me up
lit lightning
you lit me up, you lit me up

crooked lips.
hooked teeth.
flight path.
crow feet. blue felt coat. baby seat

you lit me up ,you lit me up
lit lightning
you lit me up, you lit me up
you lit me up.
i seen the light. i seen the light. i seen the light.
Track Name: wine, moonshine, sugar beams
i saw your knees bend as you sang that last note
i thought of how we stood on the winding colorado,
he smells like a trailor, with a mouth like a sailor,
and a fistful of GOLD
Fish off the hook, belly full of drink,
well Samson yellow-bellied you’re a slippery thing
like the moon or the wind, i’m not one to give in,
i’m a coyote-proud-cold-blooded thing

i can count the little steps i saw you walk toward me
on the balcony with the river running right below me
and the sound of your feet as you hit the ground running
in Dallas, San Francisco and Wounded Knee

Look down below as you row your boat
deep in the bottom of the swamp
and in the shallow ditch,
at the coroner’s report,
you know YOU gave it up
You never said goodbye and i’m not coming back
You know it ain’t my style,
I ate too much, I lost my appetite
You will miss me...in good time.


to the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat
to the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat

Tumbleweed and rifle, and you cry betrayal,
Hooked a trophy and her love drugs with a simple kiss,
it’s no fair to get outhustled, by a girl who cracked your puzzle,
and say, “I thought they loved me better than this!”
Well Judas you been living your life always searching
for something more - so i’m the junkyard prize
Yes look how love it shines, some glitter for your charity,
You’ll get the best of me, just like a shiny plaything

So Now I got a bloodvow - a PACT with myself
to keep you riddled, shot full of holes, through and through
You cry unfair, cos you can’t stand to lose,
Come on, face the woman now who outdrew you.

Look down below as you row your boat
deep in the bottom of the swamp
and in the shallow ditch,
at love’s autopsy,
oh you know who gave it up
You never said goodbye and i’m not coming back
You know it ain’t my style,
I ate too much, I lost my appetite
You will miss me.
in good time.

..Oh but he knows you’re here...
He knows that you exist.
He smiles the widest, wildest, brightest, starfucking smile
I have a red tan like the borderland you showed me,
to another country,
...your trespassing hand


to the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat
to the end, to the end, to the end, row your boatto the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat
to the end, to the end, to the end, row your boat
yes the end, to the end, this is the end, row your boat
to the end, to the end, the end, row your boat


bye, bye,
my wine, moonshine, sugarbeams


bye, bye,
my wine, moonshine, sugarbeams


bye, bye,
my wine, moonshine, sugarbeams
Track Name: farewell creek
at farewell creek,
we saw a flash of light,
ontario skies dropping stars,
long-neck birds taking flight

veil of fog,
in the headlights
Make a wish, make a wish,
for what’s been left behind

fortune-tellers, readers of the skies,
This is indeed a very, very long drive.
Done trusted things,
baby’s gonna cry,
You betrayed my promises,
All you brought me was lies

(the survivor speaks:)
“look my life is my life,
and i will decide.
gotta look to my life,
gotta look to what’s mine.”

(the martyr returns:)
“i know it ain’t wrong,
to want to survive.
but there’s always a cost,
something left behind.”

come cowgirls, troubadors
round your campfire,
is your horse lost?
come take your turn,
in this long night.

Done trusted you.
baby’s gonna cry
She said,
“I knew the truth, but i lied.”
She said,
“I knew the truth, but i lied.”
She said,
“I knew the truth, but i lied.”
Track Name: st. lawrence seaway: gateway to the world
past the five roses factory and its amber lights
we’re happy to be far away now,
i don’t know how we got away with what we were up to.
we never carried their picket signs,
that campaign had worn us down,
instead we drifted to a basement of smoke and said,
“hey let’s ditch this rubber boat”

you can drive me down to the locks
& we’ll play chinese sticks in the street
face to face, your breath is liquid ice,
may it reach the stars
every time we meet there is no difference,
i know you can see that i am you is me is all that we need
in this galaxy we don’t speak

you were at home in the alphabetic streets
drive you to the dance, and you wore those jeans
every single day you said Paul Westerberg was God
He wore his mother’s lipstick left on the bathroom sink,
Smoking menthol slims she’d left behind,
his lips were pink
We’d sleep all night with the music on,
till you lost your head
and you broke your lp’s

you can drive me down to the locks
& we’ll play chinese sticks in the street
face to face, your breath is liquid ice,
may it reach the stars
every time we meet there is no difference,
i know you can see that i am you is me is all that we need
in this galaxy, we don’t speak

you don’t need to speak

i drank, and i drank, and i drank some more
till i stopped smoking with a throat that was sore,
i wrote to you once, but i lost the note,
the doctor said, “you know, you should look after that throat”,
i shaved my head, i read from the early church,
i looked everywhere for someone to confirm my worth
and there it is now. it’s all still there.
in the language wars. when the tempers flare.

you can drive me down to the locks
& we’ll play chinese sticks in the street
face to face, your breath is liquid ice,
may it reach the stars..
every time we meet there is no difference,
i know you can see that i am you is me is all that we need
in this galaxy, we don’t speak
you don’t need to speak

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