Fingertips Explores the Archives: Tanya Donelly - Whiskey Tango
Jeremy from Fingertips joins us every Friday as he scours the betterPropaganda archives, highlighting gems buried a few years back in our database.
This week we bring you "Whiskey Tango" from Tanya Donelly.
Slinky and acoustic, "Whiskey Tango" shows off Tanya Donelly's rich, elastic voice and subtle facility with melody in a quiet and simplified setting. It showed us, four years ago, a new direction for the former leader of the band Belly, and co-founder of Throwing Muses, whose songs previously did not lack for crunch, drive, and electricity. On "Whiskey Tango," the under-appreciated Donelly looks for texture in smaller gestures--a slide guitar here, a wood block there--and brings her world-weary lyrics ("Of the art of making waves/I've had my lesson in spades") front and center. The song is as quiet as its implied tango beat, and might float by unnoticed were it not for the aching dignity of its minimal but lovely chorus--Donelly's use of a seventh chord and the elegant progression out of it when she sings "Of the art of speaking plain..." gives "Whiskey Tango" a small but powerful hook. The song is the effectual title track from her Whiskey Tango Ghosts CD, released in 2004 on 4AD Records.
- Jeremy Schlosberg