BETH JEANS HOUGHTON & THE HOOVES OF DESTINY
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
My L.A. RECORD compatriots cautioned me that Beth Jeans Houghton “doesn’t need our help” to get her album promoted. But perhaps YOU, fair reader, need encouragement to look past the U.K. gossip rags and Houghton’s Gaga-esque costumery, and really engage with this album’s songs. Do it! This carefully crafted yet free-soaring song assortment combines folk with pop as well as Nick Drake ever did, and pairs twee micro-orchestration with deceptively dark lyrics in a manner reminiscent of Love’s Forever Changes—hell, to hit the point home, Houghton shoots a bird out of a tree in the very first verse of the very first song, mimicking “Live and Let Live” before “setting the scene” with angelic trumpets, pianos and Floyd-esque midget helium voices. And this is just her first song—each one that follows is a masterpiece of time changes, swirling harpsichords and banjos, or perhaps a clunky waltz interrupted by a Mad Hatter tea party, the constant thread being her gorgeous voice. Oh, that voice! Though she’s capable of angelic flights and smart multi-layered harmonies with herself or her Hooves, her preferred voice is a womanly Mia Doi Todd alto, put to best use in the summery “Atlas,” whose amateurish lyrics about dating an older guy are the album’s only clue to Houghton’s barely-legal youth—though my favorite is “Veins,” lyrically like PJ Harvey but evocative of an alternate world where Christine McVie was the best part of Fleetwood Mac! Houghton’s next move is probably to Los Angeles, to record a sophomore album with Neil fucking Young—let’s hope she sticks around to show my fellow writers what for. P.S. The CD has a hidden punk track?!?