The Last Songs is a superb live acoustic album, an excellent synthesis of harmony, melody and lyricism. You will not hear better acoustic-guitar work so effortlessly merging blues, jazz and folk-roots genres. Siffre truly shines here, bringing a new sophistication and scholarship to his troubadour style of the 70's.
The songs are compelling. Siffre's vocal performance is urgent, engaging and flawless in timing and treatment of his main themes--homophobia, racism and poverty--and here he also deals with incest, domestic violence and life's futility. There is not a bad song in the set; all the tracks standout, with `Samaritans', `Face to Face (A Paper Regret)', `Little Boy Baby Blue' and `Everything' standing out in particular.
One of the best tracks on this CD is `Clinging to the Ledge', which has an appealing coarseness reminiscent of the vocal intensity of `Schooldays' from the 1991 Man of Reason album. The ever-present love songs, `Lose Myself in You', `Rainbow Moon' and `Sparrow in Storm', show his usual complex balance between romance and despair without the romantic clichés. These love songs are distinctively different from his 70's love songs but have a similar approach to the beautiful `I Will Always Love You' from the 1988 So Strong album. The album ends with an ebullient return to Siffre's all-embracing belief that `if life is worth anything, love is "The Song to Sing" ', an accapella reference to Clause #28 where love is love even between two men. This poignant rendition is unlike the reluctant resignation of the 1972 accapella `Saved' from the Crying Laughing Loving Lying album.
In The Last Songs, we discover both a man at the peak of his art and an unadulterated work served with a unique self-possession one rarely hears, reaffirming that Siffre is one of Britain's best songwriters. We only hope that these are not really his last songs.