trying his very best to stand out from the crowd once again...
Jamie Milton

21:01 7th February 2008

Mr. Sam Duckworth returns. He’s never really been a solo artist since the release of his debut album two years back, playing live shows with a full band, letting his jumpy laptop drum loops turn into the real thing. But in his return to the centre stage, the only moment when you’re not thinking about him entirely is when big-thing Kate Nash makes an unwelcome entrance towards the end of ‘Searching For The How’s And Whys’. People will be expecting something not necessarily spectacular, but something which surpasses the record that lifted him off his feet and flew him off to heady heights. Instead of making the most out of a peak of attention and press, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly has taken full time in preparation of this second record that could prove more decisive than it would first seem.

Since ‘The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager’ took off, several radio-friendly, pop enthusiasts have tried and succeeded in playing snap with the primary elements of Duckworth’s talents. So here, with his return. It almost seems as if Get Cape… is the one stealing the good stuff. A play or two of ‘Searching For The How’s And Whys’ and you will almost definitely be feeling like you’ve heard it all before. It just takes a few sturdy slaps on the back of head to make sense of it all. Duckworth isn’t a pioneer of such, but he created a wide gap between the dire singer-songwriter and the truly talented one. And although experimentation isn’t the key feature of this follow-up release, you can tell he’s aware of the warning signs and is trying his very best to stand out from the crowd once again.

So we ‘Let The Journey Begin’ with the opener which allows machine-produced strings somehow sound elegant and genuine as they sit pretty in the background – it instantly reassures the listener that here we have an artist determined to be different, brave and willing to change music just that little bit. Not leaving any time for slumber and pats on the back though, the record progresses at a steady pace and we hear Duckworth sampling news headlines in the inevitable “political” song and strangely enough, success ‘I Could Build You A Tower’. Although containing far-too-Bragg-esque lyrics that leave you feeling awkward, it breathes out maturity and is nowhere near as painful as it sounds. The songs that try to send out a message come through as cheesy and desperate for attention but something about them works – this need for a voice sounds so genuine it’s pulled off.

Elsewhere, Get Cape. inherits abroad sounds from the Latin-era (‘The Children Are The Future’) and the word “experiment” will enter your head whether you want it to or not. As for the Nash collaboration, it may go down better than first expected. She somehow sounds sophisticated and telling in a song about modern-day life when you’re surrounded by sex, drugs and difficult relationships. A theme we’ve heard before but it’s a song that isn’t typical Get Cape. Dark and brooding, stark and sensible – and when Duckworth dominates the vocal poetry it confirms the fact that he sounds better left alone as a talent. Despite the efforts to remain groundbreaking though, the album consists of typical-sounding Duckworth-written songs which aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but it could make for a struggle in the long term when placed against the rest of the radio-friendly material we’re hearing these days.

Single ‘Waiting For The Monster To Drown’ and ‘Keep Singing Out’ don’t bring about anything refreshing but they’ll leave the casual fan satisfied. And “satisfied” is a word that sums the whole album up – although it never stays too predictable, we never hear anything marvelling in originality, we never hear anything that leaves us speechless. Nothing on ‘Searching For…’ is stunning, moving or daring enough to make Duckworth more of a star than he already is but what he essentially aims for is well achieved. Never venturing off so far that fans are left disappointed and never becoming too foreseeable for others, this continuation to form won’t mean a loss of innovative status for the singer-songwriter. Instead, it’ll assert him as a gift with passion that is let loose throughout the album.