More of an audio short story than a musical CD. This is the physical version of what Mark Billingham and My Darling Clementine have been performing and touring in a live setting. It is inspired by Billingham’s (and his fictional detective Tom Thorne’s) love of traditional country songs and themes. A story of love, loss and murder it says on the cover and what could be more of a country song subject than that?
For the recorded version the additional voices of Graham Parker and David Morrissey (who plays Thorne in the T.V. series based on Billingham’s books) add character to the reading. It is the short story of Marcia, a former show girl in Las Vegas, now working in a run down bar. Marcia considers her life, her loves and the choices she has in later life. Add to the spoken voices are the songs and powerful voices of Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King. As My Darling Clementine they attracted the attention and friendship of Billingham and began to work together on this successful combination of words and music.
There is an excerpt from the song By A Thread from My Darling Clementine's album How Do You Plead? Other than that the songs featured are newly recorded versions of perviously released or new songs (Friday Night At The Tulip Hotel, As Precious As The Flame) that fit the overall story arc. These version are essentially as they are done live, stripped back to voice and guitar but with some judicious bass, guitar and piano accompaniment added for the recording. The Brodsky Quartet also add strings to the new version of No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won’t Stand By Him). The tracks are sequenced for those who wish to access the songs on their own for repeated listening; but the recording works best as a piece.
I have listen through and enjoyed The Other Half several times now and one can pick up different nuances of the tale the more you listen. Billingham’s reading and voice has an attraction in itself that makes it very listenable. The songs are equally good and the whole thing comes in a nice package with a booklet that includes the text of the whole story. Any fan of either party will enjoy this innovative storytelling. Others may find one listen enough but either way it should be experienced - either live or in this repeated listening format.