Ian Shaw - Lifejacket - Coda
13 October 2008Coda
"Drawn to All Things", his scintillating debut album of Joni Mitchell covers, confirmed Shaw's reputation as probably Britain's greatest male singer and as a wonderfully sensitive interpreter of great songs. His follow-up album now establishes him also as a gifted songwriter for "Lifejacket" is mainly self-composed, in collaboration with guitarist David Preston.
The songs typically have oblique, challenging, poetic lyrics - one might assume a Joni influence here - that seem autobiographical. Most are dark and uncomforting.
Pamela, for instance, which features an elegant guitar solo, is a reminiscence of childhood. Bu there is no comforting nostalgia here. "Those weren't the days", asserts Shaw and the line "I've come this far" sounds weary and despairing rather than triumphant.
Even in I Want to Live in Paris, in which he invites a lover to Paris and depicts in details the life they could have there, the romanticism is undermined in the final line with Shaw adding, "Or shall we move to New York?"
The most affecting song is A Good and Simple Man, a loving tribute to his late father while Letter From a Dead Soldier which features goreous, elegiac trumpet from Guy Barker, is also very moving.
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