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Sleight Of Heart

Malcolm Middleton Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Mar 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Full Time Hobby
  • ASIN: B000Y9PIDQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,562 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Week Off
2. Blue Plastic Bags
3. Total Belief
4. Just Like Anything
5. Follow Robin Down
6. Stay
7. Marguerita Red
8. Love Comes In Waves
9. Hey You

Product Description

BBC Review

If it's difficult enough to believe that anyone could make an album that centred around the brevity of life and the endless nothingness of death sound intoxicatingly wonderful, then it's going to stretch the imagination to breaking point that the same person could release a sister collection that's just as brutally honest and just as brilliant.

But that is exactly what Malcolm Middleton has done. Originally conceived as a mini album that would polish off what he cheerfully refers to as his ''boo hoo/way hey! period'' and collect up the remains of the Brighter Beat sessions, Sleight Of Heart has grown, with that inevitability that underpins all of Malcolm's work, into something much more important.

Stripping the lushness of A Brighter Beat away, Sleight Of Heart is his return to a sparser sound, built mostly around his acoustic guitar and sprinkled with nothing more than the most necessary augmentations - some drums, a smattering of piano, the occasional banjo - to reveal an aural yin to A Brighter Beat's yang.

Split between six original songs and three covers, it is, to use Malcy's own phrase, a little more 'way hey' than 'boo hoo', offering a new perspective on his often dour view of the world.

Yes, love is described as being like both ''rain in Glasgow'' and ''a car with a cracked window shield'' in the epically honest Love Comes In Waves, but when the value of staying in is weighed through the results of a trip to the off licence in Blue Plastic Bags or the desperate lot of the songwriter summed up in Week Off with the simple write a good song, just give me more time it is done with a knowing smile.

That affectionate approach is continued in the three cover versions. King Creosote's Marguerita Red gets a straight up and down reworking that shows Middleton's faithful love for his fellow Scot's work, while his take on Jackson C. Frank's Just Like Anything is equally loving.

It's Madonna's Stay that gets the real overhaul. It is rendered almost unrecognisable as the '80s beat is drained out and the song is filled up with Middleton's sense of ordinary drama - a process which brings out the desperation and fear of the original lyrics.

It all adds up to a collection which is enjoyable and - at least in terms of Malcolm Middleton - optimistic, and an essential companion to A Brighter Beat. After all, you can't fully appreciate yin without yang, can you? --Chris Long

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous melancholy 7 Mar 2008
Format:Audio CD
Lovely acoustic album. I am totally in love with Middleton (and Moffat and the Arab Strap stuff). He can be both despondent and hopeful and ironic at the same time. It's a difficult effect to achieve, but he does it so well because he is so honest. There's truth in his music.

The highlight of the album is his remarkable cover of Madonna's Stay. I haven't heard her original, but Middleton's version casts it as a sad lament.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songwriting With Sincerity! 29 Mar 2008
Format:Audio CD
Malcolm Middleton's new album is an exquisite collection
of sincere and at times heartbreaking songs. Considering
his previous work it's not as despondent as one may expect.
The opener "week off" is quite lighthearted and has a rhythm
that gets your toe tapping more and more with each listen.
"Love comes in waves" is in my opinion one of the best tracks
on the album mainly for it's sincerity; it really sounds
like he means every word. It should go to number one in the
charts and perhaps if a miracle occurs it might do. The guitar
in Total belief is quite intricate and reminds me of Nick drake.
All in all it's a really good album that should be heard.

Well worth buying!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middleton at his best 5 Mar 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
With this mini CD you get value for your money, great music and excellent lyrics, the track "blue plastic bags"is one of his best songs to date, brilliant stuff.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gritty or puerile? Hmm... 13 Mar 2009
Format:Audio CD
In more modern times musicians as well as poets entrench their meanings in elaborate metaphor for myriad reasons: self-preservation, pretension, privacy, a drug-induced askew outlook on the world, or simple inability to construct meaningful sentences. The results are usually, with a few exceptions, thought provoking, open to interpretation, and phonoaesthetically pleasing. Blurt out the first thing that comes into your head and you run the risk of being seen as obvious, passé, and being impaled upon the sharp tongues of critics, as trite, platitudinous, jejune.

Maybe, therefore we should all praise Malcolm Middleton for his candour and straightforward song-writing. It's refreshing to hear a man sing so clearly in his native accent - sounding like Roddy Woomble's speaking voice - utterly free from pretense.
He deals with themes that are readily accessible to the everyman and attempts, in places, to dissect - or at least illuminate - the human condition in the modern world.
These songs are a collection of six he wrote during the sessions for his previous solo outing, A Brighter Beat, plus three covers - ranging from King Creosote to Madonna - that he intended to produce as an acoustic album but got carried away and invited the whole band along. It remains, however, quite a minimal folksy affair.
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