Artist introductions come to me from all quarters nowadays and these have been greatly extended thanks to the wonders of cyberspace. Some time in 2011 a posting got me sufficiently interested enough to attempt to watch a live webcast of a singer called Tiger Lilly, who was appearing somewhere in the London area. As it turned out I had missed her performance by the time that I had sorted connections out but something kept me going to find out more about her. I’m so glad that I did, and now I am much more knowledgeable about this wonderful person.
I had stumbled across a very talented and inspirational lady who had only started to learn to play the guitar a few years previously. She has apparently had a number of challenges to overcome throughout her life and has succeeded in using her music as a therapy to help her to take control of her destiny. I had soon tracked down a number of video performances and interviews via YouTube and had downloaded her ‘Reflections’ album. The first track of hers that I played on air was ‘Affair’ but it wasn’t long before I had given other tracks an airing too. Sadly, a hastily arranged interview with her, during one of my infrequent visits to London, had to be called off, otherwise I would have have met her in person by now. Having arranged two ‘living room gigs’ over the weekend of the launch party for the ‘Promises’ video was another missed opportunity to meet – I’ll continue to live in hope.
Then I heard about her plans for a new album and video and have been following progress with great anticipation since. Tiger Lilly was my featured artist on 3rd January and waited as patiently as possible for the 31st March and the launch of album and video. One of the great benefits of social media is the ability for artists to keep people informed about progress, and Tiger Lilly has been so good at providing interesting snippets, photos of video venues and co-stars, and teaser bits of songs and video footage, I find that really helps me to feel close to the process – as well as helping to build the anticipation as release dates approach.
Another clash meant that I would yet again have to stay in the Scottish Borders when the album launch party took place, a local band were launching their single/CD that same weekend. As soon as possible I was on-line to download the album and enjoy the video that had been shot to accompany the title track.
Whilst thinking about the way in which I had come to be aware of Tiger Lilly, this new album and the way in which she will soon be promoting it, I found myself thinking about Diane in ‘Trainspotting’, the young teenager, with her finger on the cultural pulse, shows how out-of-date the film’s main characters’ pastimes are: “Times are changing, music is changing, even drugs are changing,” she lectures. I could now add, “the music business is changing”. The independent / DIY ethos of Punk is returning with renewed vigour and Tiger Lilly has managed to produce her albums and videos without the back-up of a record label whilst seeking to retain control of her own direction. The album and video were substantially helped along the road to reality by a combination of sponsorship from a business that believed in her, and a ‘crowdfunding pitch’ which enabled individuals to add their support. Following the release she is readying herself to embark on a thirteen date promotional tour in conjunction with a Coffee Shop chain.
It is again thanks to Social Media that I have been able to share with others her obvious joy and relief that things appear to be going as she had planned. She recently posted photos of posters for the first of these promotional appearances, in her home town. One of these was accompanied by this comment, “When I was a little girl and mum would take me shopping to cheer me up from being bullied I used to dream my posters would be in the High Street in Slough. …. Sounds silly I know but feeling blessed today.”
So, eventually, I get round to considering the musical content! Those who have read previous reviews by me will know that I do not let myself be constrained by rigid genre classifications; this album appeals so much to me as it doesn’t particularly lend itself to any easy pigeon-holing. There is a pleasing blend of styles contained that provide an excellent creative arc to enable her to showcase the depth of her talent.
The aptly selected title track, ‘Memory Lane’, allows Tiger Lilly to demonstrate her commitment to use lyrics as an inspirational beacon for listeners in order to help encourage them to have faith in their inner strength. At the same time the instrumentation is positive and encouraging as it provides a good high-energy introduction to the album as she affirms her self-belief – “I am where I want to be.” The accompanying video serves to underscore the messages contained in the lyrics as it follows a ‘mini-me Tiger’ through a playpark maze towards an empowered future where Tiger Lilly has fulfilled her ambitions in spite of the challenges that had faced her; learning from mistakes and accentuating the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives. The video depicts somebody who has taken a realistic view of all aspects of their life and emerged as a confident and determined individual. Helping to avoid it seeming too worthy and serious, a puppet character appears towards the end to reassure us that life can also be fun.
I find myself choosing to use the word timeless to help describe many of the songs contained in this varied package. ‘Dirty Love Song’, in particular, lends itself to this description. The instrumentation is wonderfully woven to provide a sensitive foundation of acoustic guitar and delicate piano, for Tiger and duet partner Mark Crofts’ vocals. It is so nice to sense echoes of Nick Drake and Terry Callier amongst the chord sequences, rhythms and tones.
‘Let The Games Begin’ is a wonderfully charged mash-up of hard rocking and grimy rapping. ‘Chocolate Button Kisses’ gives her a chance to be breathy and jazzy with syncopated guitar, scat phrasings and whistling. ‘Newsflash’ is an examination of the way in which the all pervasive media can intrude and create additional challenges for people already trying hard to deal with what life throws at them. ‘My Last Regret’ is a brutally honest examination of a relationship, “I never promised you that I’d be perfect ….. I’m still human and I have my own wounds and scars”, which is delivered with an anthemic feel. ‘Over’ is another rock orientated song that helps to add to the breadth and diversity of content.
The musicianship is excellent, sympathetic and not overpowering, and allows Tiger’s voice and lyrics to take pride of place. To further add to the diversity of the Tiger Lilly package, a clothing line in conjunction with designer Laura Moore, is also now available. Overall, I firmly believe that this is an excellent and inspirational album that demonstrates the power of self-determination and survival and it will remain firmly embedded in my own personal memory for a long time to come.
Full track listing:
1/ Memory Lane
3/ Chocolate Button Kisses
4/ Dirty Love Long
5/ Everything And Nothing
7/ Scars Of Yesterday
8/ My Last Regret
9/ Superman Pyjamas
11/ Let The Games Begin
12/ Letting Go
Memory Lane video: