Jane Weaver – Love In Constant Spectacle

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Jane Weaver is playing a very good long game. She’s just turned 52 and has spent over 30 of those years deeply involved in music in Manchester – from her early bands Kill Laura and Misty Dixon to her free-flowing solo output and more wayward projects such as Fenella and NeoTantrik – and yet this latest release, Love In Constant Spectacle, is by some distance her most satisfying album. Full of surprises and tantalisingly familiar, it’s the sound of Weaver stretching out and drawing from her wealth of experience to fashion a heartfelt, head-spinning account of grief and solace.


Viewing the curve of her career, you can see how she got here: 2014’s The Silver Globe and its follow-up Modern Kosmology packaged her hippie-ish idealism in proggy chansons and Can-like grooves, a homespun blend of Hawkwind and Hot Chocolate that paved the way for Flock in 2021. This, she’d decided, was to be her pop breakthrough, one she’d play to her swelling fanbase at numerous festivals. She studied the hits of Hall & Oates and the Bee Gees and emulated the parts that worked for her, producing an array of celestial psych nuggets like “The Revolution Of Super Visions” and “Heartlow” that sounded great on the radio. The pandemic scuppered most of her plans – she only finished touring that record in March last year – but Flock certainly helped Weaver take flight.

It was during her band’s runs in America that this album began to take shape, on long desert drives across Southern states into the sunset, soundtracked by the blissful pastorals of Harold Budd and Vangelis. Weaver was coming to terms with her father’s illness and eventual passing, and sought some kind of comfort in the natural world, an attempt by one fairly well attuned to the frequency of the cosmos to place order on the chaos of life. Securing John Parish as producer for the record also allowed Weaver the luxury of revelling in the sound of her music, happily relinquishing control to the man who’s stewarded records by PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding and Dry Cleaning. In the past, Weaver has had a hands-on role in every aspect of her albums, necessitated by budgetary constraints and an inherent resourcefulness, often recording them bit by bit over a couple of years in a local studio. So to have a first-class studio booked months in advance, for a batch of songs already well-rehearsed, with a producer known for channelling the essence of an artist, gave Weaver the space and confidence to look at her work from different angles.

For some songs she tried the technique of automatic writing, translating her lyrics to give the impression she’s singing someone else’s words, which provides a sense of welcome detachment. The opening lines of the spellbinding title track, “Over the head of you/Wanted an island to give to you”, might stem from this process, but it’s the song’s Roxy-ish swagger that pulls you in. Trish Keenan of Broadcast famously used this lyric-writing approach, and there are shades of that group, and Stereolab too, in the chintzy swirl of “Perfect Storm” and the loping funk that underpins “Emotional Components”, not to mention the fuzzy psych of “Happiness In Proximity”. Parish’s presence seems to have given Weaver the freedom to create extravagant arrangements which he hones into focus, as on “Univers”, an enchanting reflection on the natural order of things that started life as a country ballad but evolved into something quite stunning in the studio. Similarly, where perhaps Weaver might have piled on the synths to make a point in earlier recordings, here she exercises restraint to let the songs bloom. “The Axis And The Seed” unfurls atmospherically over a “Metronomic Underground” bassline as Weaver sings of “the crocus buried deep” and finding “the axis and the seed”; this is what she means by love in constant spectacle: although the soil is cold and muddy, life is bubbling away under the surface and come spring the flowers burst into life. By the time the purring final track “Family Of The Sun” coasts out of view, pulled away by a motorik drum-machine and cresting jangle, Weaver is serene and composed, singing, “I’m escaping this loneliness through the optical/And completing this task”.

There’s a pleasing sense of closure in the album’s circular flow, which also, inevitably, possesses that sense of optimism that runs throughout Weaver’s catalogue. This might well be her finest record so far, but you can bet the next ones will be even better.


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Mancunian singer-songwriter takes a left turn, this time inwardJane Weaver - Love In Constant Spectacle