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New Releases: I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry | Plenty

Art rock trio fronted by Tim Bowness of No-Man 'borrow' country classic.

Plenty was originally formed in Liverpool in the mid-’80s as a post-punk/art-rock hybrid and were fronted by singer Tim Bowness, who subsequently hooked up with multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson in 1987 to found No-Man. Having reunited for the well-received ‘It Could Be Home’ in 2018, the trio will release a new double album in late June (pre-orders here), from which their audacious cover of country music evergreen ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ is its second single.

“It was described by Elvis Presley (who did a mighty fine version himself) as ‘probably one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard,’” states Bowness. “The Hank Williams original is a downbeat delight, but the Johnny Cash/Nick Cave duet from 2003 just about pips it for me. Our version was the last song completed for the new album and we had no idea how it would turn out. Once finished, my first thought was to wonder whether an Americana classic has ever sounded quite so English. For whatever reason, this most American of pieces seemed to bring out our inner Wilfrid Hyde-White! * Ultimately, I hope we’ve managed to pay sincere tribute to a great song, while also managing to stamp our identity on something so familiar.”

Echoing then contemporary artists such as The Blue Nile, It's Immaterial, The Chameleons, David Sylvian and Talk Talk - as well as icons like David Bowie, Brian Eno/Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush - the music recorded by Plenty in the ’80s alternated between anthemic indie-pop, poignant ballads and electronic experiments. Seven of their demos from that time are included on ‘Enough’, a brand new 2xCD that also includes two 2021 ‘lockdown’ projects. Hard hitting and diverse, it is divided into three constituent parts:

Old: a mini-album containing seven contemporary interpretations of 1980’s Plenty songs not included on the reunion record

Borrowed: an EP consisting of five cover versions that see the Plenty trio stamp its identity on songs by It’s Immaterial, Suzanne Vega, The Teardrop Explodes, Kevin Coyne and Hank Williams

Older: seven original Plenty demos dating from 1986 to 1990, with several songs containing lyrical ideas later utilized by No-Man

Something old, something borrowed, but all blue, ‘Enough’ showcases the origins of styles that subsequently became Bowness and No-Man trademarks and reveals different facets to his distinctive vocal technique. The powerful bass playing of Jones and inventive guitar parts and pulsating electronics from Hulse also push Bowness into territories he has rarely explored since the 1980s.

The artwork for ‘Enough’ is by Carl Glover and the double CD booklet contains sleeve notes by Tim Bowness.

*Benedict Cumberbatch for anybody under 50.

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