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Baker's Dozen

True Pairings: Tom Fleming's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Hewitt , September 25th, 2019 12:16

Former Wild Beast Tom Fleming, who's just released his excellent debut album as One True Pairing, picks the 13 records that shaped him, from Tool and Def Leppard to Scott Walker and Joanna Newsom


Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender

I saw her playing in Leeds when I was about 19 and just thought, ‘What the fuck is this?’ What got me were the harmonies with her voice and the chords on the harp, which were beyond anything you could do on the guitar. From then on I was trying to do these ridiculous banjo rolls and open tunings so I could try and get the same sort of range, but it was nowhere near the same thing. There’s a sweetness to this record, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for finding it twee, but all that tweeness and sweetness I heard as pain; it felt like angles and elbows, and there’s such a hope and fresh perspective to it that I just didn’t care. My anxiety is that from this, we end up with Mumford and Sons, do you know what I mean? But that’s not what this record is. And there’s a Californian art school feel to it, obviously, but that sounded like such an incredible escape to a kid from Kendal. I think that Ys and Have One On Me are probably more complete records, but this is so direct – it’s just her and her harp – and to me it felt like it came completely out of the blue. I loved all the alliteration and the flights of fancy in her lyrics. I think she’s about my age – maybe a year older – and when I heard this I was like, ‘Oh, I thought I was making progress, and I’ve just had my arse handed to me tenfold. I’m nowhere near this.’