Friday, 1 November 2019

Richard Dawson - 2020

Wikipedia tells me this is Richard Dawson's 7th album - which means I may need to go to Spotify and do a bit of catching up.
On the other side of this, it means I have no pre-conceived conceptions about this offering - and if the back catalogue is as good as this, then I'll be a happy bunny.

Phew!  This is some special thing - a right old mash up of folk-esque story telling, indie grungeiness, a bit of prog-ish-ness - the introduction to "Black Triangle" could be straight out of the ELP songbook - , all bolted to a sometime Trumpton-ish tune coupled with some seriously hummable melodies.  The voice veers between Northumbrian brogue, measured baritone and pained falsetto (with a couple of Ronnie James Dio-like screechy moments).

The songs themselves are basically sung in a spoken word like narrative - there is no attempt at a poetic turn of phrase or a levering in of a rhyming couplet.  The instrumentation is relatively stripped back and simple, but can (and often does) explode into louder moments.
Dawson is addressing the minutae, and sometimes absurdity, of everyday life - "we're hurrying home from Sheffield, having received a phone call" begins one song ("The Queens Head") - and using the words that best convey the story he is trying to tell, and paints a vivid picture into the bargain
Imagine a meeting between Neil Hannon, Captain Beefheart and Ken Loach - that's a pretty close comparison of the experience.
And like those artists, the more time you invest you suddenly get an "Ah, that's what it's all about" moment
(OK, The Divine Comedy is bit more direct, and Captain Beefheart it might take a little longer)

There are a couple of moments when the songs sound like a descent into madness - notably on "Civil Servant" and "Fulfillment Centre", and considering the drudgery of the song subject it just fits the story.

The song construct, singing narrative, and subject matter just seem to "fit" - and then the detail and/or explanation of the mundane in the lyrics just provides another focus.
There is a certain comfort in some of the lyrical references that makes the stories told seem more real.  And because of that certain familiarity, you almost walk away thinking that Richard Dawson's world is not such a skewed view on the world

Civil Servant


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1 comment:

  1. One of the albums of the year without question. As you retrace your way through Richard's catalogue (which I'd thoroughly recommend) you'll find that he rarely stands still for long. It's all worth owning. Also be sure to check his work with Hen Ogledd, particularly last year's 'Mogic' LP.