What do you expect from a Jehnny Beth solo album? It’s a fair question, one founded on an ever-changing musical dial that delves, collaborates and thrives in every circumstance. It’s what makes ‘To Love Is To Live’ even that more intriguing, an open door to a creative world carved out by Jehnny that ties together into an artistic statement with stunning results.
Where Savages were bold, furious and unstoppable in their direct fury, ‘To Love Is To Live’ weaves its own path. From raw stripped-back odes to relentless punk intensity, it’s a record that deserves to be listened to as one fully-formed piece of work. A panoramic vision that bursts into fruition, there are electronic breakdowns (‘Innocence’), smooth tonics that clink with ease (‘Flower’), shuffling alt-rock (‘Heroine’) and spoken word interludes (“A Place Above” featuring Cillian Murphy pouring gazed observations over a Stranger Things soundtrack). Its message is powerful in every sense. Across sexuality, power inequality, heartbreak and more, it’s the sound of Jehnny channelling everything into glorious art. ‘How Could You’ practically foams at the mouth in a swirl of anger and passion (punctuated with Joe Talbot of Idles chiming in over electro-infused typhoons) while ‘I’m The Man’ fizzes and rips at everything around it. Both contrast with the jaw-dropping beauty of cuts like “The Rooms” and “The French Countryside” - the latter a vulnerable bullet that stops you dead in your tracks.
Eclectic. Artistic. Intense. Real. ‘To Love Is To Live’ is everything you’d want from Jehnny’s opening solo bow. A record that confirms her place in a unique echelon of modern artists, it’s a deeply meditating and affecting portrait of human life right now.