Underrated: Joan Armatrading “Me Myself I” – 80s pop deluxe

So, I recently went to a hipster record store that had huge heaps of records for 5€ and I saw this cover of a beautiful black woman dressed to the 9s and thought: why not buy this and surprise myself later on, discover something new?

The first and titular song “Me Myself I” is the most amazing 80s pop song. This album was released 1980, so it’s not just amazing 80s pop but an 80s pop song that was way ahead quite a few other artists of that time.

Ok, so let’s talk about Joan: She’s from Great Britain (born in Basseterre, in the Caribbean but her family moved to GB), plays the guitar and has released 18 studio albums. Let that sink in. Her father also played the guitar but forbade her to touch his guitar and so her mother bought her her own guitar, after she had started writing her own lyrics and playing the piano that her family had bought as lovely decoration.

THEN, Joan left school at 15 because she had to make money for her family and she got fired because she played her guitar during tea breaks. How is this not a biopic yet? She played her first show at 16 at her brother’s school and played her own songs and covered “The Sound of Silence”. She started her music career in the 70s.

Ok, let’s to go “Me Myself I” – for this album she worked with Blondie-producer Richard Gottehrer and changed her sound significantly because she is magic. She was quite a success in the UK but apparently (WHY???) this never really took over internationally (which I don’t get, that single is the bomb). Paul Shaffer played the piano on this album, how weird is that?

The whole album is so full of different styles but all fit so well in the 80s. It’s evident that Joan plays the guitar because she uses it well and beautifully in most of the songs. Added with the typical synths of the time, it manages to be an exceptionally fun pop album but also incredibly impressive musically.

Joan’s voice is fantastic and at times androgynous (“Turn out the Light” sounds at times as if Eddie Vedder’s vocal chords were magically transported through time through the chorus and it’s glorious). Sometimes, you can hear a little Cher and then on “All the way from America” it’s a completely different voice yet again. She uses her voice in ways that almost seem daring for a female performer of that time because it doesn’t always sound pretty but it sounds right.

Oh, and the songwriting, people. If you love the great singer/songwriters you will love Joan. “All the way of America” is the song that Billy Joel is probably envious as heck over.

And the last song on the album “I need you” has a strings arrangement that feels like it could have inspired Laurie Anderson’s amazing (and heart breaking) song “Slip Away”.

I am in love, seriously.

Also: rocking “Me myself I” in Crocs is like the epitome of 0 fucks given. I approve it!

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