not a penny shy of remarkable, an album of blissful quality
Alastair Thompson

11:15 11th May 2009

Graham Coxon’s seventh studio album is not a penny shy of remarkable. Stephen Street returns on production and whilst there are contributions from the likes of Robyn Hitchcock and Danny Thompson it is, as usual, pretty much all the man from Rinteln. A concept album, it follows a man’s life – think ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ but replace the Kronenborg with a Merlot and the backdrop of a Greasy Spoon with the afternoon chatter of a family of swallows.

‘In The Morning’ is eight minutes of completely natural beauty that sees Coxon revert back to the 1960s British folk boom. Buoyant finger-picking lets the track rise and fall as if a Humberside breeze atop of which Coxon produces some of his warmest lyrics to date:

“There’s a melody in every line / And a sorrow in these eye’s of mine /
If a diamond hangs in every tree / And a life is lost for every leaf /
Can a bird still sing? / I listened just this morning, this is what I heard”  

 It is not until halfway through track four that the acoustic delicacy is first broken, the anticipated-fuzzy guitar riff accompanies the most genial of war cries: “If you want me / Come and get me,” and is one of few references to his punkier days. Although restricted in airtime, Coxon’s trusted Telecaster is allowed an airing for the truly sublime ‘Dead Bees’ as if to remind us he is still a rock’n’roller at heart.

Although by the most part simple and bucolic, the complexity of composition is deliberate throughout. Long-regarded as a guitar-phenomenon, Coxon is no doubt flexing his muscles prior to his meeting with old friends in Hyde Park later this summer. Bert Jansch and Nick Drake are obvious influences throughout but that fact detracts nothing from the charm of ‘TST.’

In an album of blissful quality, the bluesy-folk of lead single ‘Sorrow’s Army’ perhaps stands tallest, but only by a whisker. Impossible to sit still to, Coxon’s voice has rarely sounded better. Although the virtuosity of ‘Humble Man’ would argue otherwise. “Where were you / On the sofa / With the love / Boiling Over.”