This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music

Hachette Audio. May 2022. ed. by Kim Gordon & Sinead Gleeson. 8:46 hrs. ISBN 9781668602829. $25.98. MUSIC
From editors Gleeson (Constellations: Reflections from Life) and former Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Gordon (Girl in a Band: A Memoir), this poetic collection of essays about women in music introduces listeners to several performers. Liz Pelly’s “Broadside Ballads” is the best of the bunch, a captivating recounting of Agnes “Sis” Cunningham’s protest music in the 1950s and 60s as she worked in conjunction with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Ottessa Moshfegh writes a beautiful piece about taking piano lessons as a very serious child. Jenn Pelly writes about Lucinda Williams and Rachel Kushner about country singer Wanda Jackson. “Diaphoresis” by Margo Jefferson compares African American jazz greats, particularly Ella Fitzgerald, to Greek deities. Multiple narrators serve the volume well by lending the different essays changing voices, and the pacing is excellent. Listeners will want to seek out the music of the women in the essays.
VERDICT A varied and fascinating look at a myriad of women who have experienced or influenced music in different ways told by a number of talented women authors; this excellent audio production belongs in all music collections.
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