The Canadian singer’s striking new album is themed around the US occupation of her parents’ homeland – but is a lilting, joyful record about omens, civil treachery and sexuality
On a dull January afternoon, Mélissa Laveaux arrives at her record label’s Paris office apologising for her lateness. Disorganisation is, she says, a lifelong affliction.But the 33-year-old is in the middle of so many self-directed projects that it’s hard to take her claims too seriously. It takes a polymath to simultaneously mastermind a play about Haitian spirits, a multimedia project about a 19th-century sculptor and an album about the American occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century.
The album is Radyo Siwèl, Laveaux’s third: a lilting, burnished, joyful full-band collection that combines Haitian kompa guitar with calypso and soca, courtesy of Toronto-based Trinidadian guitarist Drew Gonsalves.
The Irish singer found it transformative to write about her experience of an abusive relationship, and her new album trades her debut’s wounded dread for a spirit of defiance
In early November, Irish folk musician Brigid Mae Power published a post on her Tumblr blog. Titled “#metoo Part 1”, it chronicled an abusive relationship she became embroiled in after moving to New York in her late teens. “All of a sudden he was choking me in the living room,” she recalls in one particularly disturbing passage. “I was trying to breathe and trying to run away and get to the front door … He was pulling me, choking me and hitting me.”
Power’s post went on to trace the protracted conclusion of the relationship, which ended for good when she obtained a restraining order after he threatened to rape her. The piece ends, devastatingly, with Power describing a completely unrelated sexual assault involving a spiked drink.
As the leader of the Pogues turns 60, friends and fans gather to celebrate his musical legacy – as well as his miraculous power of survival
“I believe in miracles,” Shane MacGowan said recently in response to a question about his religious beliefs from the Irish radio show host, Miriam O’Callaghan. “I’ve seen miracles happen in my life. It’s a miracle every morning when you wake up.”
In MacGowan’s case, this oft-repeated spiritual mantra has a particular resonance. Having turned 60 on Christmas Day, he has defied the dire predictions of both doctors and concerned friends regarding his doggedly self-destructive lifestyle over the last four decades. In short, Shane MacGowan is alive and (relatively) well despite himself, despite the years of dissolution that began in his teens and continued apace through his years as a punk “face” in the late 1970s, the halcyon days of his London-Irish group, the Pogues, in the 1980s, and the long years since when his appetite for excess dulled both his songwriting skill and his ability to perform.