A piquant reminder of the talent, musical and literary, that has always been under editors’ noses, if only they cared to look ... The best of these pieces alight on the intersection of music and identity, and how politics and personal relationships are often intertwined with our listening ... What binds these writers is their emotional connection to music, and their experience of songs as a portal to memories – whether painful or joyful – and a broader understanding of the world. This Woman’s Work is a collection of music writing, but in the loosest possible sense. Here, music is the soil in which all manner of stories take seed and bloom.
This Woman’s Work is billed as challenging 'the historical narrative of music and music writing being written by men, for men' and 'seeks to confront the male dominance and sexism that have been hard-coded in the canons of music, literature and film'. That’s laudable and very necessary, but it’s not anti-feminist to hope there is also also going to be irreverence, complication, thrills, ridiculous devotion, mystery and all the things that make the serious business of music so joyful. Glad to say, it’s all in there ... Beautiful pieces ... Bright and insightful ... While reading these passionate essays, I felt there was so much I wanted to experience, so much I hadn’t heard before.
... fearsome and eclectic ... There's strong work throughout the collection, but the most reverberant pieces tend to take the form of emotions-front girl-on-girl tributes ... richer for the fact that Gleeson and Gordon have sought out contributors who see the politics in making art.
What sets This Woman’s Work apart is the presence of many writers who are not, in fact, music writers. They are instead writers whose craft and acclaim stretch across the field of contemporary literature ... This book is strongest where it uncovers and elucidates some complex and deep stories of women musicians ... As a whole, the collection has a bumpy feel. Brilliant, funny, formally innovative essays hobnob with feminism 101 pieces ... this volume uncovers the ways in which we all need to keep working at the discovery and description of women’s lives in and with music.
The 16 writers in this excellent female-focused essay collection evoke the mystery of music with indelible precision ... Some of the most moving pieces are also the most personal ... A fresh and affecting look at women and music.