Amidst the gradual rise in the public awareness of issues surrounding gender, gay rights and equality in general, The Bleeding Obvious album comes at the perfect time. Whilst most of the issues it deals with generally pervade into the public’s consciousness via weighty TV debates by dusty academics or sensationalised news stories, the songs here come from the other end of the spectrum, the smaller, personal thoughts and experiences of someone living a regular life at the heart of the matter.
In a fairly guarded way the songs explore the changes and challenges that its author Jess Rowbottom has faced in the last couple of years and whilst others rally against such issues in bombastic terms, hers is an album which deals with the personal details, the universal experiences of the day to day. Much of the power of the record is the use of “talking head” commentary, people revealing their own stories of coming out, of dealing with others reactions and prejudices, in their own words and voices.
Musically it is a wonderful generic pop hop across everything from disco to synth-pop, blue-eyed soul to ambient dreamscapes and harnesses the lyrical poignancy of arch agitators Chumbawamba to the futuristic beat of The Pet Shop Boys and the northern directness and dark, social exploration of Reverend and The Makers yet never really sounds like any one but sometimes all at once.
Sometimes the power of the message is in how it is delivered and here the importance of what is being offered lyrically comes wrapped in some deft and original musical packaging. Whilst the album obviously has an immediate audience amongst those you initially relate to the topics, the music may also act as a Trojan Horse, engaging a wider spectrum of people driven by the music first and the message second. Education by osmosis is a powerful tool.
In the ever-shifting social-political world, this album should and indeed could, become an important milestone. Demonstrations and transient news stories are all very well, but this is the sound of one person, alone and mussing, a voice in the wilderness calling on those who already relate and those who wish to understand. And when all is said and done it is the singular human voice that has always wielded the power.