“I am a woman of leisure,” Thao Nguyen begins on “Holy Roller,” the first song she wrote for upcoming third album with the Get Down Stay Down, but that understates her endeavors. We the Common, due out on February 5, 2013, in the U.S. via Ribbon Music, might be the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter’s first album with her band since 2009’s Know Better Learn Faster, but she also teamed up with K Records veteran Mirah last fall for a collaborative LP titled, accurately, Thao & Mirah.
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down recorded We the Common at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studios and Dallas’ Elmwood Studio. John Congleton (St. Vincent, Bill Callahan, the Walkmen) produced. No less an indie luminary than Joanne Newsom guests on the track “Kindness Be Conceived.”
“Holy Roller,” though, is just Thao and her down-getters and -stayers, plucking out two-and-a-half minutes of offbeat, upbeat, folk-tinged guitar pop. “It marked a shift in how I operate,” she says of the song, in a statement. “I was steadily, in an overdue way, becoming grateful for everything and everyone I had. I tried to capture a sense of revival and a determination to be better.”
It’s a lusty yet flighty song, the kind of intricate, enigmatically charming creation you might expect from a record with ties to Newsom. Rather than dwell too much on the many holy rollers making head-smacking headlines these days, Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down roll along themselves. “I want love in the aftermath,” Nguyen crows. If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, why not see what they can do?
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s ‘We the Common’ track list:
1. “We the Common (for Valerie Bolden)”
3. “We Don’t Call”
4. “The Feeling Kind”
5. “Holy Roller”
6. “Kindness be Conceived” (feat. Joanna Newsom)
7. “The Day Long”
8. “Every Body”
10. “Clouds for Brains”
11. “Human Heart”
12. “Age of Ice”