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A compelling performer both in looks and in sound, real name Peter Wilson our man in question hails from Belfast, which is instantly obviously seconds into the album.
Wake Up Scarlett is the opener, a ballad in nature; sparse, delicate piano backed by strings and percussion. The Duke's voice is nothing short of special, his accent gves his music something much more original and more sincere than his fellow artists. The lyrics too are brilliant and the accent is not so strong as too disguise these, this performance is truly heartfelt and made rich and whole with backing.
Everybody Wants A Little Something is up next, simple piano riff welcomes us to the swing-felt number, brass joins in this time cementing the Duke's presence.
No Cover Up is my personal favourite of the album, I have been lucky enough to see Duke Special live and it was a truly magical occassion, he's such a charismatic performer, drawing on music hall and more theatrical influences, never taking himself too seriously cracking jokes here and there. This slow ballad really feels sincere and the lyrics are given alot of focus here with arrangment feeling much more spaced. By no means is Duke Special a great piano player but you feel no need for him to be, the song's beauty is in there simplicity.
I don't think you could do badly to buy Duke Special's album if you're a fan of folky, alternative kinds of music. I don't really know how to place Duke Special. He has a music hall influence, there's strong feeling of folk tendencies and a pop edge. But his voice is what makes him unique and in no way a pejorative way. Hats off to the Duke a class act, quite literally.
Duke Special, also known as Peter Wilson, is a Northern Irish solo artist that released this fantastic first album on 23 October 2006. I have to say I immediately feel in love with the great melodic tunes that are instantly recogniseable and very pleasant to the ear!
Now Duke Special looks like the kind of punter you expect to find in the park drinking cider walking a dog around by a bit of string (which totally belies the fact that he went to a posh school in Belfast) but his music is not in anyway what you expect - definitely do not judge a book by it's cover!
Duke Special shows himself to be a beautiful singer who can write heart-felt, melodic music. There is hardly an electric guitar to be heard, instead the instruments are piano, strings, wood-wind and Duke's pleasant Irish singing.
In style, the album is half ballads, half up-tempo, but always memorable and made with great care. The up-tempo stuff is rag-time, music-hall, but utterly compelling.
It is difficult to place him with 'contemporaries', maybe a bit of Badly Drawn Boy, mixed with Damien Rice and David Kitt.
I am sure you can pick this up for maybe a fiver now and it is definitely worth that! I love the fact that he is not afraid to sing in his Belfast accent, not ashamed or trying to sound American.
Highlight - Freewheel. Listen to it and you will definitely want to buy the album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Wake Up Scarlett
2 Everybody Wants A Little Something
3 Brixton Leaves
4 Our Love Goes Deeper Than This (Feat. Neil Hannon and Romeo Stodart)
6 No Cover Up
8 Last Night I Nearly Died
9 Ballad Of A Broken Man
10 Salvation Tambourine
11 Something Might Happen
12 Slip Of A Girl
13 This Could Be My Last Day
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Overture (BBC Live version)
2 Brixton Leaves (BBC Live version)
3 Last Night I Nearly Died (BBC Live version)
4 Portrait (BBC Live version)
5 Wake Up Scarlet (BBC Live version)
6 Regarding the Moonlight in Eastbourne (BBC Live version)
7 Salvation Tambourine (BBC Live version)
8 No Cover Up (BBC Live version)
9 I Let You Down (BBC Live version)
10 Freewheel (BBC Live version)