t’s clear from the opening moments of “Astonished Man,” the first song on Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s excellent new album A Man Alive, that something has changed. We first hear frontperson and main songwriter Thao Nguyen’s modest but expressive voice before it’s engulfed by a funky drumbeat, jagged guitar lines and distorted bass, all of which comes on more like Beck-era Odelay or 1990s beat-mavens Luscious Jackson than the often stripped-down Folk-driven ditties that dominated the San Francisco-based outfit’s first three full-length records.
The newfound adventurousness continues through the next 11 songs, and not just sonically — Nguyen for the first time overtly delves into the estranged relationship with her father, who left the family when she was a child. On “Guts,” perhaps the most nakedly personal song in an album full of them, Nguyen declares that “I got the guts/I don’t need my blood,” before admitting, “You know I’m easy to find/You won’t come get your girl/I want peace enough for two.” Read a full interview with Nguyen here.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down plays Thursday at Woodward Theater. Tickets/more info: woodwardtheater.com.