Thalia Zedek Been Here and Gone

The upper classes are chattering about a revival of cabaret and torch songs, as epitomised by pristine soprano singers or flamboyant new gay icons, but Thalia Zedek takes a considerably more uncomfortable route through dark alleyways and down a flight of stairs into a dingy club where the bar staff look like freak show rejects and the patrons are slightly cheerier than morticians, where Nick Cave, Edith Piaf and Marianne Faithfull rule the jukebox. This is where you'll find Zedek and her band, which, for the most part, contains only piano, guitar and a plywood violin. You used to find her down the street at the rock club with her band Come, but she's discovered a greater intensity at a lower volume, and when she sings "Your god hates me," in a cracked and androgynous voice, it's more bone-chilling than any feedback squall from her previous incarnations. She faithfully covers Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" to give newcomers a signpost but the best part is that she doesn't even have to; her originals "Excommunications" and "Back to School" are just as strong. Not recommended for daylight listening. (Matador)