When Camille “Jehnny Beth” Berthomier, performs with Savages, she is renowned for a dedication to provoke and disrupt perceptions of music as an art form. A theme unequivocally continuing into her solo career.
Her debut solo album, TO LOVE IS TO LIVE, is to be accompanied by another art form in the shape of an illustrated collection of erotic short stories with long term partner, Johnny Hostile, titled, CALM: Crimes Against Love Memories, (set for paperback release on 9 July).
TO LOVE IS TO LIVE, is a juxtaposed celebration of the divinely feminine. Embracing both ends of her being; assertively empowered, yet vulnerably fervid. The album is an exploration of Jenny Beth’s desires, fears, and her turmoils of both revelation and secrecy, reality, and fantasy.
This continuation of opposites is the theme through the whole of this cinematic album. Featuring production from film composer Atticus Ross, Flood, and also Hostile. The album is a vivid and three dimensional work of collaborative art. The album also features appearances from Romy (The XX), Joe Talbot (IDLES) and actor, Cillian Murphy.
In its stunning opener, ‘I Am’, Jehnny Beth whispers, “I am naked all the time, I am burning inside, I’m the voice no one can hear,” then as if apologising for those desires, she gives the reassurance “but I have decided to be true, I never meant to trouble you”.
Equally stunning, ‘Flower’ is a tribute to a dancer she once fell for. The track reveals an unmitigated intensity of desire entwined with an element of doubt. “She loves me and I love her, I’m not sure how to please her, I’m not sure how to reach her”.
This self doubt grows into a lustful confidence in, ‘We Will Sin Together’, which has a Catholic confessional feel to it. “We will sin together, All I want is your sexy eyes, Your legs parting to the skies, We will sin together,” Jehnny Beth declares over a haunting piano track. The black and white video for the track is equally bewitching, with religious statues, composedly becoming animated and moving as lovers.
TO LOVE IS TO LIVE is brazenly brilliant. A soundscape celebration on the exploration of sexuality, discussing: lust, rage, uncertainty, failure, and hesitancy. It is a beautifully disjointed jigsaw puzzle of emotions, enhanced by the brilliance in Jehnny Beth’s performance. With each fresh listen, this album offers a different angle to look into oneself, and is a record to come back to time and time again. This is ultimately a dazzling record.