Rachael Dadd’s Moth in the motor package is high on concept. A ten inch vinyl record with a choice of hand-printed or artist-created covers, an accompanying exhibition and a digital download which includes an animation by Betsy Dadd, it majors on Rachael’s piano-written songs, while the tour running alongside the record’s release reinforces the point that piano is her current instrument of choice. The release brings together three excerpts from her last album, After the ant fight, one from the preceding The world outside is in a cupboard, and three new songs. The stunning ‘Table’ from After the ant fight leads off, and seems to take on extra zip, punch and flight from the vinyl pressing. It’s entirely appropriate that Rachael’s sister should so painstakingly and fluidly animate that song, given its intimately domestic subject matter.
None of the other re-released songs quite match ‘Table’ for impact; solid album tracks that they are, the lesser of them seem a little exposed in this piano sampler format. To my mind Rachael is a more distinctive songwriter with strings and a fretboard in her hands; when sat on a piano stool, she strays towards territory in which ten-a-penny singer-songwriters are camped. But as if to defy me thinking that, she really stretches out over the keys on the ten inch’s title song. ‘Moth in the motor’ combines the dynamics of ‘Table’ and the animated insect chirpiness of ‘Ant and bee’ from After the ant fight, but with added Thelonious Monkiness, and maybe dashes of Laurie Anderson and Jane Siberry. Well worth seeing Rachael attack the ivories on this song in a live setting, I should think.
The covers are great – a fabulous range of designs and takes on the title – though you may balk at paying some of the quoted prices. I plumped for a cheaper Dadd design and got a rather fetching purple deer-owl hybrid, but if I’d had money to spare for one of the artist creations, I’d have gone for Emma Lawton’s, as featured at the head of this post, for it too is high on concept.