The Gadflys have reemerged, with their punk ethos intact, writing an enchanting paean to rock icon Deborah Harry

Review by Vince Leigh

The legendary Moriarty brothers are back.

The Gadflys have just released Deborah, the first single from their forthcoming album Love & Despair. After years of touring, album releases, and intermittent personnel changes, the band has reemerged, with its punk ethos intact, writing an enchanting paean to rock icon Deborah Harry.

It is a graceful ode yet one replete with a vitality that underscores the sentiment of the lyric. The rock ‘n’ roll is still there, the traces of folk and country are still there, and a hint of pop is also present.

But it has been interfused to create a unique collage, one whose tethering strand is Michael Moriarty’s voice. Utilizing melodies that are neither predictable nor obvious, Deborah’s strengths lie in the myriad ways a tune can be pleasing and satisfying while retaining a sense of inscrutable charm.

Moriarty’s performance is key here, of course; issuing restrained cadences for the most part yet letting an unfiltered intensity take hold only when these surges comply with a natural dynamic, such as when the pivotal lyric, ‘Standing before me as though I was blind,’ is reiterated.

And it is a kind of blindness that is at work here, and one that mesmerizes; a well-considered response to a siren-like calling. Despite its rumbling pulse and jangly panorama of supporting tones and textures, Deborah has the feel of a promise that might yet be fulfilled, the merging of time perspectives giving us a picture of venerable lamentation as well inextinguishable desire, the narrator ever-willing, the subject ever-present – ‘I’ll sail my boat round your island to the Lower East Side’.

The song is quite affecting, managing to combine a sense of melancholic contemplation with a reverence that never compromises the fine layers of electricity flashing through the performance—it’s a joyous kind of yearning on display here, one that alternately shimmers and glimmers as it glides. Just like a memory.

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