Ezra Furman - Twelve Nudes CD

Ezra Furman - Twelve Nudes CD

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Release Date: 30 August 2019


"The songwriter's most direct and brash album yet has no time for saxophones or keyboards. She gives specific, unpoetic examples and doesn't mince words. Ezra Furman is a highly thoughtful interviewee, often at the expense of convenient, neatly packaged answers." - Pitchfork

"It’s the harshest record she has made. The absence of saxophonist Tim Sandusky means there is no softness to the corners, just jagged edges – but the melodies are still indelible, the hooks still exhilarating. It’s the sound of someone exploding." - The Guardian

"Twelve Nudes’, the Chicago punk’s short and sharp blast of protest songs, was equally inspired, it seems, by the social and political upheaval of 2018 and the impact that Green Day’s instantly rewarding 1994 pop-punk masterpiece ‘Dookie’ had upon her as a young music fan. Most of these songs don’t trouble the three-minute mark, bristling as they do with restless energy and desperate indignation."- NME


Furman’s preceding album, 2018’s Transangelic Exodus, was “an angry and fearful and pent-up reaction to events too,” she recalls. “But it was a carefully written and recorded version; we took a lot of time with edits and overdubs. I knew I wanted I make this album quickly and not spend time thinking how to play the songs. Twelve Nudes is a ‘body’ more than a ‘mind’ record – more animal than intellectual, And by affirming negativity, it gives you energy, to reject stuff. There’s more space for positivity.”


Far from being defeated by a world in turmoil, Furman’s productivity has only increased the worse things have got – and she’s taken up different disciplines to boot. Between Transangelic Exodus and Twelve Nudes, the 33⅓ imprint published her deeply personal, thoughtful and incisive book on Lou Reed’s legendary 1972 album “Transformer”, before Furman scored the soundtrack to Netflix’s acclaimed comedy Sex Education (it aired in January), which showcased the tender side of her songwriting.


But all her pent-up energy had to be channelled somewhere: hence Twelve Nudes, which Furman and band recorded in October and November 2018 before the album was mixed by the venerated producer John Congleton (Sharon van Etten, St Vincent, John Grant). Furman says the album has two spiritual heroes – the late great punk rock rocker Jay Reatard, and Canadian poet, philosopher and essayist Anne Carson. “She’s one of my top three living writers,” she says. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes’, and similarly these songs are meditations on pain and recognising what’s there if you go digging around in your anger and fear and anxiety. So, my album is called Twelve Nudes.”


“The record is political,” says Furman, “but it offers an emotional reaction rather than being specific or partisan.” Furman’s Jewish identity shapes ‘Rated R Crusaders,’ triggered by the Israel/Palestine conflict and its complex web of refugee trauma. ‘Trauma’, meanwhile, seethes with the spiritual malaise brought on by watching wealthy bullies accused of sexual assault rise to power. America, Furman well knows, is balanced on a knife-edge between white male supremacy and the dream of universal opportunity; hence the references to Mexico, slave–owners and US ‘founding father’ Ben Franklin in ‘In America’. As Furman sings, reiterating the spirit of punk rock, and positivity, “Put it all in a two-minute pop song / A really-mean-it-a-lot song for America.”


“One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger,” she concludes. “I want to be a force that tries to revive the human spirit rather than crush it, to open possibilities rather than close them down. Sometimes a passionate negativity is the best way to do that.”