The Bitch is Back and would like you to meet her third husband. After 2 years of holing up in the second bedroom of her London flat it’s time to bring him home to meet mother.
Deborah Conway began her musical career with Do Re Mi in 1981, the band recorded several singles, EPs and 2 albums, but despite achieving commercial radio success with a song about “penis envy” (amongst others), the band broke up in 1989. She then spent a couple of years living overseas, recording an album which was never released, appearing in theatre and film, including Peter Greenaway’s “Prospero’s Books” and working on a Pete Towshend album.
Following her signing to Mushroom, 1991 saw the appearance of Conway’s first solo record, “String of Pearls”. The album achieved platinum sales and produced a number of singles including “It’s Only The Beginning”. And indeed it was. In 1992 Conway won the coveted ARIA Award for best female performer.
Then came the ground breaking Bitch Epic album in 1993. More musically ambitious that it’s predecessor, the record featured a rich tapestry of instrumentation and a number of guests and collaborators including Vika and Linda Bull. It was produced by American producer Jim Rondelli. Multi instrumentalist Willy Zygier featured heavily on the album as co-writer, arranger, composer and co-producer. It was a personal and musical partnership that proved successful commercially and creatively.
Since then Conway has become a mother to Daughter Syd and 2 years ago she, Willy and Syd relocated to London determined to write and make her next album. The duo soaked up the musical and cultural atmosphere, checking out various clubs and gigs and performing a dozen of their own. Through necessity they set up a studio in their second bedroom and set to work burying their noses in manuals and began piecing together their ideas on the electronic equipment they had acquired. As with most projects it proved to be 99% perspiration as they worked obsessively each day stockpiling new songs and accumulating newly discovered sounds and effects. Both wanted to write standards for the end of the century. Finally they sent out the resultant tapes and connected with Fine Young Cannibals and Sundays producer Dave Anderson, determined to get a sound that was both raw and gutsy, yet polished at the same time. A migratory recording process then ensued, moving from studio to studio and acquiring ex Fine Young Cannibals guitarist Andy Cox and programmer and ex Waterboys bassist Martin Swain as part of the team. These sessions proved the most ambitious and easily the most relaxed recording experience that Conway has had. They had succeeded in re-inventing themselves.
The resultant album has been christened “My Third Husband”, a provocative and ambiguous title that has a number of possible interpretations, especially given that Conway has never married. Perhaps she’s married to her work, it is her third record. Perhaps it’s a reflection on love and institutions. Is she a grieving widow or a newlywed? It also sounds like the possible title of a classic sophisticated 40’s movie directed by Howard Hawks. And it’s a great phrase for Conway to use at a party.
According to the bride, this album dwells on the universal themes of sex, death, memory, loss and self flagellation, fairly weighty subject matter for your average pop song. But what strikes the listener first is the post Portishead almost cinematic feel to the lush electronic and acoustic musical tableaux and the sound of the rhythms that push and surround Conway’s at times almost narcoleptic and disembodied vocal stylings. This record has a real groove to it.
These songs have already been tested in live performance in England to full houses and warm responses. Australian audiences will be able to witness that for themselves over the next couple of months before Conway, Zygier and daughter return to England around April of next year.