…… for me to be way behind with the reviews. If I didn’t have to do a day job and could concentrate on running a disco and writing articles and reviews I’d be a much happier bunny and be a bit more on the ball.
Anyway, I have an unexpected day off today so will endeavour to catch up on some of the pop CDs that have plopped onto my doormat over the last few weeks. Whether I’ll be able to do the same for the tidal wave of classical stuff that’s arriving.. …well - Let’s see how it goes.
Amy MacDonald: This is the Life
This is a surprisingly upbeat album in these days of Miserablist catalogues of dreary dirges fired at us by all and sundry. The recent excellent single ‘Poison Prince’ and the current one, ‘Mr Rock ’n Roll’ both jolly along at a sprightly pace, as do most of the other songs contained herein. I can’t say the lyrics are particularly startling or profound but I can imagine masses of festival-goers rocking out and singing along quite happily, come rain or shine. At her best, Amy has a rich fruity voice somewhat reminiscent of past great female folky singer-songwriters such as Melanie or maybe even Cerys Matthews. She exploits the simple acoustic accompaniment or light orchestration to great dramatic effect but never allows it to dominate her voice. All in all, this is a well constructed album and deserves to attract the attention from all directions. It makes very acceptable Summer Fayre.
Aqualung has always been a bit of a disappointment to me. The band is clearly quite talented as a bunch of players but fall down badly in the composition department. This single proves to be no exception. It kicks of with an exciting introductory flourish, then sinks into standard Coldplay lyricism and repetitiveness that, frankly, has the power to hold my attention for no more than 2 seconds. All the interest fostered by the strong opening guitar line is dissipated in a flash, never to recover. It’s formulaic – I’ve heard it before millions of times – and once was quite enough thank you. There is obviously a market out there for this sort of dreary fayre, but not here. Sorry.
I know I bang on about Miserablism but I do think there’s far too much of it about. It’s not good for the Soul of the Nation and it encourages people to see things through ebony-tinted glasses. It tends to foster a negativism that says the whole world is militating against the individual and life is hopeless. Even if this is mainly true, it denies the idea that one can rise up and make the best of a bad lot and live life to the fullest possible advantage.
Having said all this, if one wants art to reflect reality and one needs some misery to indulge oneself and wallow in the pit, apart from Leonard Cohen, you can’t do any worse than Nick Drake. And this album fits the bill admirably.
This is a collection of amateur recordings showing the misery-maestro’s development prior to his famous 60s/70s output in the context of home, family and university life. Surprisingly, some songs are remarkably uplifting if not downright happy. In fact, one gets the impression that if he’d approached life with a slightly different humour, Nick Drake could have turned out to be Kevin Ayres.
Although they have been remastered for CD, the quality of the recordings, raw as they are, sound perfectly good for mass consumption and give a brilliant insight into the Lost Soul’s background and influences.
A very appropriate and fascinating addition to the Nick Drake catalogue of woe.