Song 44: Joan Armatrading, “Down to Zero” (1976)Posted: February 13, 2013
Aside from the general time period when she was popular, I know virtually nothing about Joan Armatrading. As far as I know, the only song of hers I’ve ever heard is “Down to Zero.” I’m curious enough that I’m going to do a Google investigation after this post, but for now, I like that “Down to Zero” is just a song that exists with no context. I love this song, and I love that it’s in my brain with no surrounding information. It’s just there, being itself.
I first heard “Down to Zero” on an episode of Homicide, of all places. It was one of those “what was that?” moments, and it sent me to the Internet to find out more. Apparently downloading this song was all I needed for my fix.
There’s a “roominess” to this song, in the sense that you can get a feel for the room it was recorded in. The parts are separate, but they all have the same kind of reverb, and you can imagine the players sitting in that room, attentive to each other and the project at hand. (And no, I have no idea whether everyone played together with no overdubs, but shhhh. I’m busy.)
In listening to this song on repeat, I’m realizing that I’m a complete sucker for this swaying waltz kind of tempo. It lulls me into relaxation, even when Armatrading is singing about “more pain than the blistering sun.” And speaking of her singing, I love this woman’s voice, especially when she sings “down to the ground.” She seems to be singing as low as she can go, but she doesn’t go off-key. That’s some control.