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With the massive resurgence of 80s/retro punk chic-it was only a matter of time before Simple Minds jumped on the bandwagon and released another album. And who can blame them for it? This genre of music has recently become highly topical and relevant to a new wave of fans, it would be stupid not to do what you once did best and bring out another album.
I first loved this Scottish band from their hit single 'Dont You [forget about me]' which is synonymous with the movie it featured in Breakfast Club (featuring the brat pack of the time Allie Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and that bloke from Weird Science whose name I forget).
Graffiti Soul, released this year, is really a surprising album. Which I suppose is a silly thing to say considering that their earlier albums demonstrated an ecclecticism that they have become somewhat renowned for. The reason that I find this album surprising is not because it is brilliant, nor mindlblowing-but mainly because you can not really tell that they are an old band making a come-back (as it were). The sound on this album could be the sound of a new band influenced by bands like Simple Minds. I think this is a good thing because they aren't brewing up more of an old recipe that really only appeals to their loyal fans and a specifically targetted market. This album could appeal to anyone.
For me 'Rockets' is easily the best song on the double disk album. It has an upbeat steel guitar-cross synthesizer-feel which accompanies a clappy hands stomp style musical wallpaper. Lyrically it isnt brilliant but vocally they are still as smooth, deep and stunning as they have always been. If anything, vocally they have really matured and thickened in a way that is really appealing and a little reminscent of U2s Bono.
'Stars will lead the way', takes off where 'Rockets' lands and by this 3rd track of the album, I think the listener begins to settle into the experience, understanding what they are going to get from this album. And I must say, in this sense, the album delivers.
The best songs on this album are certainly comparable to many of U2s best ofs, and once you realise this, I think you can begin to tire of them a tiny bit. Some other songs on this album can be compared to some of Keane's better tracks-musically at least and think this is where they have achieved sounding like a current band making it big for the first time.
Other highlights of the first disc are 'Light Travels'and 'Graffiti Soul' (which is really reminiscent of their older stuff and absolutely stunning).
The second disc has some really wonderful cover tracks (my faves are Massive Attack's 'Teardrop'). Their version of 'Whiskey In The Jar' is a bit basic and been done by two many bands to hold any interest for me, but they do add their own sound to it-who hasnt?
The Cure-By The Cure is their 12th studio album! And for those of you that are familiar with the band, you will know that this is just a drop in the ocean compare to the amount of albums they actually do have out.
For those of you that are not familiar with The Cure, I ask 'how the hell have you managed to avoid them all these years?' If this is the case, be proud because it is quite a feat.
The Cure have been around since the late 70s-pushed to stardom by Robert Smith (guitarist/vocalist). Even in the late 70s when punk rock was the home for a lot of funny looking people, Robert Smith still stood out-and still does. With his messy mop of dark hair (that is so popular even to this day with Emo scene kids), his dark eye liner and his smudged red lipstick-it's fair to say you couldn't miss the guy.
But it's not just his looks that stand out: the bands slow, delicate, vampiric sound stirred bedroom miserabilists all over the world to attention. I am certain that this band paved the way for today's Emo/Goth scene and if you take a listen to their music you can definitely hear where many of today's bands get their influences from.
This album is fairly typical of their evolved layered guitar (cross synthesizer) sound but is a bit heavier in drum beat and tempo than some of their better albums. Songs like 'Before Three' are truly lovely-lyrically, vocally and musically. It encapsulates the feel of the cure beautifully in every way that they are cutting edge and distinctive. Smith's vocals flt easily between melodic innocence (almost whispering at times) and ghoulish agony but always with a heart felt emotional deliverance. 'The Promise' is another song that Goths will enjoy-especially as it's introduced to us by Smith's cat like vocals and the deep twang of his electric guitar.
The album finishes off with the best song on this album in my opinion (God knows why it never made it into the charts) 'Going Nowhere'. This song begins smooth, steady and magical in deliverance (with the help of some chimes of some sort) and then thickens deliciously into a very beguiling and melancholy track. The song has a really nice piano section, with Smith's voice and vocals really capturing that self depreciating 'unrequited love' feeling that I am sure we have all been familiar with at least once or twice in our lives.
Would I recommend this album above all their others? Course I could! So it's not the best but it certainly isn't nearly as bad as some of their more modern albums. If you like The Smiths, Nick Cave, New Order, Bloc Party, Interpol (list goes on and on) I am certain you will love this too.
From the first song on this album 'Gammer Gertens Needle' you will hear musical influences from the very best of the early 70s and 80s. Their sound is instantly a bit Cure like but with a new depth and twist that really just makes you want to listen to more.
Todd Pipes was the writer of nine songs on this debit album, Home. The others were written by his brother Toby (same initials, weird). His lyrics and musical sophistication give him away as smarter than his American twenty-something years. He cleverly references art objects from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's to the paintings of Kandinsky, which is really fresh for artists and other bands around this time. Equipped with this and the ability to write a really catchy appealing pop song like 'Breakfast At Tiffany's'-they are bound to gain critical acclaim.
Vocally they are satisfactory, although their vocals are not a cut above the rest by any means. I think this somehow adds to their appeal in a way, making them seem somehow non-commercially interested (even though they did so well with Breakfast At Tiffany's).
Musically the album takes us through feelings of romantic turbulence and hope, compromise, and suicide. Again, handling these subjects with a maturity you wouldnt expect from young american pop-rock-indie outfits.
Musical weakpoints on this album are songs like 'Halo' but the insightful and catchy lyrics, make even this song marketable and enjoyable. Although I normally dont like these kind of american bands that jump on the british-indie-rock band wagon, this band do it with a certain innovative finese that is undeniably sophisticated.
After they split up, Crowded House decided they had some really strong B-Sides and extra songs that didn't really get the credit they deserved. They decided to reform to make Afterglow-the home of the B-Sides and unreleased songs that couldnt fit onto any other albums.
Although the album flows really well it does sometimes give you this feeling that it doesnt really know where its going or where it has been and it feels hard to assign an era/genre or date this album. This could be because most of the material was recorded between 1985 and 1994.
Although this album is really for the die hard fans who will know where to place this album and really appreciate the completion of sets of themes in the flow of their album history, this album can also appeal to new fans. This album has some real jewels like 'Sacred Cow', the really funny 'My Telly's Gone Bung", "Recurring Dream" and the wonderful "I Love You Dawn".
Before I start reviewing the album, I think some may need a re-cap of who exactly Squeeze are. As although they are mega famous and have been around for ages, not many people seem to know who they are!. So here follows things to note about these guys:
-Squeeze bridged the gap between British guitar pop and the post-punk movement in 1974 when they formed.
-Taking influences from The Beatles and The Kinks, Squeeze became the spiritual home of songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook (who were dubbed the rightful musical next of kins to Lennon and McCartney).
-Difford wrote the lyrics and the Tilbrook made the sweet music.
-Difford and Tilbrook subtle songwriters that stuck to the rules of traditional pop songwriting techniqies, but fattened them up with killer lyrics.
-Squeeze are a responsible for "Take Me I'm Yours" and "Up the Junction".
-Squeeze also houses the legendary piano skills of Jools Holland but he left the band in late 1980 to form the Millionaires.
-Difford and Tilbrook ended their time with squeeze in 1982 but not their collaboration as a strong songwriting duo. They went on to write for Paul Young, Billy Bremner and Jools Holland.
- In 1985 the band reunited to do a charity gig, which made Difford, Tilbrook and Holland to permanently re-form.
Right now for the album; Frank, was released in 1989. It was an instant flop. During the supporting tour for Frank, their label A&M ditched Squeeze. Soon after Holland left the band to concentrate on his career in music and entertainment (for the BBC).
So for those that dont know, Frank is lyrically and musically like the lighter Elvis Costello and the attractions stuff mixed with some of the high points of the Beautiful south. Some of the high points of this album are songs like 'She doesnt have to shave' 'Franks Bag' and 'If It's Love' but the rest of the album is charming too.
Their songs might not be much in the way of a deviation from traditional british guitar pop but they do offer a lot in the way of catchy clever feel good songs that now do sound a bit 80s (and retro in a good way). If you are a fan of The Pretenders, Costello, Blondie, The Jam and Crowded House, then this band (and album) will really appeal to you.
The first opening words of this album are 'You f*cked it up' and I know this will make me sound childish-but this captured my interest. A self professed fan of coarse language is not a trait I should be proud of and this album is much more interesting than just a teenage angsty album littered with the word 'f*ck' to sound cool. So don't judge it badly just yet.
The album musically has a Stone Roses/Beck feel, mixed with some really contempory hip-hop style beats and polished off with a neat indie rock flavour. This album really is more appealing to a bigger audience than her first. Compared to her other stuff this album is pretty good but she does still rely on the pop-single catchy essence of her songs which is something that I think let's the album down a little and destroys any edge or innovacy that she might want to accrue.
The hippie indie feel on this album really is a good way forward but it's not convincing through this album, especially on collaborations with Bernard Butler (Suede) in the song 'Sugarcoated'.
Lyrically her songs are stronger than you would expect if you just judged her on her sickly pop album 'Whatever'. I suppose that she is trying to live up to the greatness of some of her idols like Elvis Costello. Without wanting to sound cruel, as in many ways I do like her, she isnt anywhere near that good.
The album sags at some points and I dont think it really recovers at times. The high points of this album, musically, lyrically and vocally are 'You Could Make A Killing', 'Long Shot' and 'You're With Stupid Now'.
Fiona Apple's third album, Extraordinary Machine, was subject to an Internet leak which resulted in fans having the unreleased version of this album before it was meant for commercial release.
This really was tragic as the bootlegged version was terrible and really didn't do this extremely talented artist any justice. The leaked album from start to finish has the singer (and the producers) bad habit of making music deliberately hard to listen to. Going for bad baroque and pop-funk bastardisations that are mostly irritating to listen to. Although Apple's voice and lyrics are really wonderfull, the bad landscape of the album musically makes it a rough terrain that most wont be bothered with-unless they are die hard fans committed to being there through musical 'sickness & health'.
Apple fans had waited ages for a new album and were certain that her Epic her label), was refusing to push any new material because they thought it was uncommercial. Based on the version of Extraordinary Machine that was leaked online in 2005, Epic did think that the album was 'uncommercial', and some say that they weren't wrong.
The internet leak brought considerable media attention for Apple and her album, proving that there were fans wanting this album. This encouraged both her and her label to give it another go, which in my opinion was a good thing because if ever an album needed a second draft, this album was it.
The released version of the album was a definite improvement (how could it not be?) Not only does it sound more polished, but the bad tin-pop messy composition feel the leaked version had has morphed into something that has a kooky arty fairground clumsy sound. Much more listenable and charming than the leaked version. This might be reflected by Apple changing her producers on the re-vamp of the album.
The proper version of this album, is really what her loyal fans deserve as she really gives a more impressive display of her talents in the completed version.
Like her second album this album needs time to grow on you. My first listen sufficed to show me that it was better than the leaked version. My second listen left me feeling unsure what I really felt. My third listen left me feeling the same. Whilst on the brink of hailing this album a flop, something made me think to give it a bit of time and go back to it. This definitely made me change my mind. The album took time to create and the album takes time to make you love it, but trust that after many plays it most certainly will.
Musically the album has a joyful and clever throbbing piano and a flirty melancholy that is really attributed to the songwriter and her charming well thought out lyrics.
Jagged Little Pill Acoustic- released in 2005 suits the new Alanis really well. With her general albums showing a mellower (hippier) side, the acoustic take on the past albums is really a nice idea.
The good thing about this album is that the songs still have the familiarity that they did before but with a slightly new sound. Now if you are expecting it to be an album of just Alanis and an acoustic six string, then you will be proved wrong! From the first song 'All I Really Want', she seems to redefine what we come to expect from 'acoustic' set-ups and gives us a lot more for our money with a whole range of acoustic instruments. The songs feature some beautiful acoustic guitar medleys, harmonica accomaniments and some really filling percussionistic harmonies.
Although her voice has always been distinctive and wonderful to listen to, this album shows a more mature quality. If you compare it directly to the first version of this album, you will hear the difference immediately. Especially in the famed 'You Oughta Know'-which had girls crooning drunkenly for months after break-ups and became a kind of girl power mantra. I am a massive fan of the original version but since listening to this album, I am a bigger fan of the new acoustic one. The reason being that vocally she fights against the grain of emotion in this song and this gives it a much more powerful effect than when she shouts the lyrics in the first version. Lyrically this version is the same, of course, but the words (being more eloquently pronounced) take on a fuller newer meaning with those of us who have grown up with Alanis. After all, how long can you realistically stay angsty for?
This albums version of 'One Hand In My Pocket' is also really delicious. It has a beautiful (almost magical) dual guitar intro that is so elegant and charming that you almost psychically expect the xylophone to come in exactly when it does. Her voice drifts like a strong thought through the details of the song again giving us an emotionally poignant and uplifting display of her talent.
For those who were fans of the first version of Jagged Little Pill and feel concerned that this album wont have anything to offer, then dont be concerned. This album really does offer something different and as I have got older, I think I now prefer this version. It really is something lovely to put on when travelling on a busy packed tube that makes you feel more chilled, more contemplative and stil gives you that edge with the cutting wit of her memorable and catchy lyrics.
In the run up to this album, Courtney Love married Kurt Cobain (the lead singer/songwriter of Nirvana). For a time they reigned majestically over the new grunge/rock scene.
As dramatically popular and critically acclaimed as these two were together, things were going to start to take an ugly turn for the worst. Cobain struggled with heroin addiction and as a couple they fought to keep custody of their baby after an article in Vanity Fair sensationalised how Courtney Love shot heroin while pregnant. Although she denied these allegations at the time; she later confessed that she had taken a small amount of heroin during the initial stages of pregnancy before she was sure she was even pregnant.
By 1993-when this album was released, things seemed to calm down for them and this album mediates the reflective chaos they have gone through together. In between the release of this album and her next, things would take a dramatic turn for the worst and listening to this album in hindsight, part of me feels the edginess and self-depreciating nature of this album fortells the misery to come for the cutting edge songwriter.
The album opens with the contraversial 'Teenager Whore'-giving us that thrashy grungy angry guitar and vocals that the band (and the genre) are famed for. This song is remaniscent of the heavy warbling guitar riffs of L7s Monster but dressed up with the trashy glam looks and vocal ranges unique to Love.
'Babydoll' is a much faster, thrashier song-building in pace and energy. Lyrically this song is weaker than some of the other songs on this album but vocally this song contains some kind of turbulent emotional energy that really brings it up to scratch.
'Garbage Man' is the steady heavy lyrically honest song that defines the essence of Hole as a band within their genre. Topically relevant to what had happened in Love's life throughout the last few years, you cant help but feel this song is the retaliation and social comment to how she really felt at the time.
The title track of the album 'Pretty On The Inside' is the mantra that millions of misunderstood teen girls will really be able to identify with. Sarcastic, cutting, confrontational lyrics help this song to stand out in terms of social politics in the same way that Rage Against The Machine had us all thinking during chants of 'f*ck you I wont do what you tell me'.
This album is really worthwhile if you are a fan of Hole, even though it isnt her strongest album, it is lyrically, vocally and musically really poignant and not only within this genre.
Robbie Williams appeared at Knebworth for more than three August nights in 2003. They apparently pulled in 375,000 people over the legendary weekend. ALthough I am not a fan of his, I was given a free press ticket to the concert in order to do a review and one thing that impressed me the most was his display of majesty over an adoring audience. I was determined that my review wouldnt be a good one and that I would dislike him even more than I already did. Not the case at all, something about his cocky mastery once on stage that really did 'entertain me'.
The album, Live at Knebworth, was released two months later. It's a 72-minute collection from his two-hour live performance. I must say that the CD version isn't nearly as impressive as the live experience that made fans swoon, the album does still demonstrate and document the energy witnessed at the actual gig.
The tracks begin with "Let Me Entertain You" (which was totally to be predicted). Together with changes the lyrics to suit each venue, he also demonstrates the arrogance that he is most famed for by coercing the audience at every opportunity to join in. Things like 'I love you England' and 'You look f*ckin amazing tonight'-along with 'Show me love, Knebworth!'. Although I generally dislike these kinds of ego indulgences, I must say that it worked brilliantly to create a buzz amongst the crowds that I do think translates in the album too.
Where this album falls short is that it concentrates too much on material from his cak fifth album, Escapology.The album begins really well (with a little dabble into 'We will rock you') but then goes a bit downhill with songs from Escapology: "Monsoon," "Come Undone," "Me and My Monkey". Although lyrically these songs are really strong (honest and depreciating in content) and they worked beautifully to charm me on stage, I did think that they dominated the album a bit too much in a way that they didnt seem to do on stage.
The album does manage to find the space for two of his biggest songs ("Angels," "Kids"), but apparently doesn't have the far better songs like "Rock DJ," "Millennium," or "No Regrets". I found this really weird because they were all performed brilliantly on stage and I believe they would have transalted well in album form.
So to summarise, although I didnt think I would like the album nor the gig, I actually fell pray to the charms of the roguishly handsome and charismatic Mr Williams-but I am still only giving it a 3!
What can I say, if you thought I was unkind about Will Young (who I actually do like 10 times better than Gareth Gates) then perhaps don't read any further.
Gareth Gates, who competed with Will Young in Pop Idol, was later signed by Simon Cowel. And although I am not a fan, I think this was a good business move. This is about as nice as I can be about Gareth Gates' musical career. I think die hard teeny bopper pop fans will have appreciated the efforts of Gates, but as far as him having any longevity in his career, I dont think it is likely.
In this album he covers 'Unchaned Melody' and to his credit, he can sing in tune, but his voice (though melodic) is highly regular and unimpressive. There really isn't anything memorable or distinguishable about it (unlike Will Young-who at least has a clearly distinguishable voice). I disliked 'Unchained Melody' originally anyway but I feel that Gates has really knocked the little magic the song originally had out of it.
The second song on this album confirms him as a 5 minute pop wonder that really (hopefully) wont go down in history. 'Anyone of us' is p*ss poor lyrically and musically. It really is generic pop at its worst and really doesnt even reflect contempory pop music of the time, it's more like something Big Fun would have come up with, doing a gross disservice to the genre.
Songs like 'Sentimental' are actually a credit to this album. They at least show the progression and mergence of pop into the 'funk' and electronic era. It's a cathcy tune and sounds like something Justin Timberlake might have come up with. I really do like this song and miraculously Gates voice sounds a little bit more sophisticated. But then he lets you down again with his cover of 'Suspicious Minds' which sounds like an over drummed/trumpeted anthemic red nose day single.
The album is ecclectic though, I will give it that. It shows a real mixture of styles like a resume of all that pop can do-but still remains wholely unimpressive.
In 2002 British singer Will Young became the winner of Pop Idol. Soon, his debut single "Anything Is Possible/Evergreen," released on February 25, 2002, became the fastest-selling single in the U.K. Of course this doesn't mean it's any good. In fact, other than Will Young's voice being really lovely, the song (lyrically and musically) is poor.
Although I am not a fan of Young's, my mother is so I will try to be kind about him. As a person I find him to be really interesting and I believe that he is genuinely a nice bloke (or at least that's how he comes across in interviews). I also do really like his voice, which has a really innocent soulful quality.
IN my opinion this album is the worst and after this they do get better. This was bound to happen after winning Pop Idol (as there is a lot of pressure for an album to released) and I think this shows heavily in the generic pop songs that over stuff this album.
Evergreen isnt the only song that I would skip on this album. 'Anything is possible' is another one. This song sticks tightly to the beats and tempo of traditional pop songs and although Young's voice shows some real promise, the song lets him down massively. Lyrically it is cheesy and musically it is totally forgetable.
As a massive doors fan I have to say that I detest his version of 'Light My Fire' and this is mainly because on this album the song feels b*stardized beyond belief! It's given a weird latin fusion jazzy elevator makeover that really doesnt suit this classic rock song. Again though, I must compliment what it does to show off Young's distinguishable and sophisticated singing voice. But it still doesn't excuse what they have done to the song.
The rest of the album flows off in the same style, probably satisfying a pop audience. It is filled with romantic ballad style songs that I must admit (though dire) are extremely catchy. One such song is 'You and I'-which lyrically and vocally is slightly stronger than the others.
In general I have to slate this album because I dont think it is his best attempt and it really only suffices to show him off as the winner of an inane pop contest and not someone who deserves a seat amongst the legends of pop. I would like to add at this point (for fear of my mum killing me) that his other albums are really quite impressive-especially Friday's Child. There, I said it!
The third album by American R&B/soul singer Macy Gray 'The Trouble With Being Myself' was released in 2003. This album has recieved good critical acclaim dispite the fact that it wasn't a major success and this just goes to show that sometimes what works critically speaking might not persuade demanding music fans.
I think the reason for this is that artists like Macy Gray shoot to fame mainly because they are really different. They come at a time when no-one else is doing much new musically speaking and they really rock our worlds. The problem seems to be maintaining a longevity in their careers. Although she most definitely will have some loyal fans-and deservingly so-I doubt whether she will attract enough new following to keep her afloat in the future.
Having said that, this album is by no means bad. It features the singles 'When I see you' and 'She aint right for you', which are both really catchy tunes.
There are some really nice funky R&B tunes on this album with some really good featuring artists (like Pharoehe Monch- in It Aint The Money). But in general although the album is upbeat, funky and definitely tightly hip-hop R&B, I dont think it really stands out as anything different from her piers in this field or her other albums.
Lyrically this album is just as honest as some of her earlier stuff and just as insightful into her personal life-the problem is, I wonder whether anyone still really cares.
Musically some songs really stand out, other than the singles. Jesus For A Day is really classic in sound and feel-with some really nice string orchestra arrangements mixed with that steady drum that keeps the overal sound mellow. 'Screaming' is also another song that musically stands out from the rest of the album. It has a steady tempo and a choir feel that fattens it out into a really uplifting song.
Vocally she is still stunning and totally distinguishable but it's just not enough to maintain my interest throughout the length of the album.
Not bad for a 26-year-old drummer turning his hand at singing and songwriting! Peter Yorn's album Musicforthemorningafter went gold in April 2002 and rightly so!
This album is really lovely and I can sincerely recommend it if you like David Gray, Bruce Springsteen and Ray LaMontagne. His music is heavy on the folky guitar chords and harmonica accompaniments that give it a real 'on the road' feel.
His vocals are really strong too, especially in songs like 'Strange Condition' where he shows both depth and warmth in the raspy quality of his voice. This works really well with the music and tone of the album.
This album is rife with guitar riffs and soft steady drums that make you feel like you are on a slow train being lulled gently. A brilliant example of this is in 'Just Another'.
Some songs feature steelier guitar riffs with warbling effects alongside some heavier drums, which helps lift the pace of the album after a few slower songs. Songs like 'Black' really give the album the slight energy needed to keep the momentum going, although this isnt the best track on the album.
Lyrically the album isn't groundbreaking but then I dont feel like it needs to be. The songs are catchy and dreamy and will definitely slow dance your soul into a beautiful romantic daydream that you will find it really hard to get out of.
'Life In Slow Motion' is a justly poetic titled album considering its content. This is English Singer David Gray's 7th album after his last one (A New Day At Midnight) was virtually ignored.
As a die hard fan of White Ladder (the album that brough Gray real acclaim), I was concerned whether he could really pull it off again. The album starts of slowly but well with the single 'Alibi': this song has a real live concert feel to it; strings and piano filling out the sound and mounting to a thorough and fat musical climax at the end.
The album continues with a slightly more contempory sounding 'The One I Love'(also a single). In my opinion this song is the stronger of the two so far. It has a very romantic/hippie ballad feel and the subtle guitar in this is lovely. It also has some really nice percussion features teamed with some lovely violin playing. The song is a bit Del Amitri in feel, and has a slow building happiness to it.
By the third song 'Lately', the album really begins to lift off and at this point I started beginning to trust old David again, relaxing comfortably in the gravelly warmth of his Joe Cocker-ish voice. This song starts with just some gentle strings and Davids emotionally evocative voice. As the song builds there are some really neat flute and chime sounds that give it a roaming airy gypsy feel. It really is one of the high points of this album lyrically, vocally and musically and for me is comparable in feel to some of the classics from White Ladder.
Although the fourth song is really thought provoking lyrically the music kind of irritates me. It features a bongo/drum beat at the start that thankfully blends nicely into some other instruments as the mixture of the song builds. But something about the tempo on this one that makes me slightly dislike it although vocally it is really impactful with some really nice backing vocals.
So 'Slow Motion' begins with just a piano and I am back feeling comfortable again-expecially as his soothing melancholy tones begin to carry the song to its full intent. This song is really contemplative and wistful in feel and although you will note that blasted bongo coming in again once the song starts kicking in, I forgive it because the beginning is so charming. This song is truly lovely but after about half way through it does blend a bit into the last one.
'From Here You Can Almost See The Sea' also starts really beautifully with just a string sound accompanied by his voice. It has a real celtic feel and I am starting to wonder why he doesnt just stay an accoustic artist. I suppose this would get a bit dull after a while though.
The album continues in this soft melancholy reminiscent way with songs like 'Aint No Love' which will really steal your breath away (although I dont like the children/playground sample at the beginning). Again this song is mainly David and his piano and this is really where he works best and this is another song that is just as beautiful as This Years Love, just as poignant and just as sorrowful.
'Hospital Food' is probably the most upbeat song on this album, it has that same old Levellers/Del Amitri/Folk feel to it which is really nice. Although this song isnt my favourite I think it could be the catchiest.
In general this album is really nice for when you are in one of those moods where you want to feel sulky or romantic or contemplative. Although it isnt better than White Ladder, I think it can definitely be considered on a par with it.