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James Garratt "James Garratt" (Southend on Sea)

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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb?, 4 May 2006
This review is from: Superbi (Audio CD)
Superbi is the 9th studio album, not counting Carry on up the Charts and the Covers album.

It's been 17 years since the Beautiful South appeared and has the idea gone stale, or can they still capture the listener's imagination.

In fairness their last album of original material, Gaze was a mixed bag. The covers album did little to endear people although it received some critical acclaim.

Superbi needs to be a good album, it needs freshness, it needs something else, and it needs conviction and belief.

Does it have it? Well having heard a pre release version I am pleased say it does, it certainly bristles with confidence, the sort that has been lacking for the last few years.

It also bristles with new instruments, not heard before on a South album and new styles, most notably a country feel, especially tracks like Rose of my Cologne and Never Lost a Chicken to a Fox. These tracks are going to split people, personally I love them, and they sound fresh and different.

Lyrically the album is as strong as ever - from the lyrics to the excellent Meanwhile to the sadness and beauty of Bed of Nails, Paul Heaton does not let us down.

The album is preceded by the track Manchester - a jaunty upbeat number that does seem the immediate choice from the album.

This album is a real move away from previous Beautiful South Albums, it is still recognisable them as Beautiful South, but there seems to be a revolution happening here. Here though lies perhaps the problem, there are no poor songs as such, but in terms of style the album is not always consistent. Hearing a country influenced song one moment then suddenly a bitter sweet relationship song the next in traditional South Style can be a little disconcerting. Although listening to the album in order it is apparent the band have thought about this as the slower numbers never follow on from each other.

This is the best album they have put out in a long time, it maybe lacks the more complex song arrangements from albums like Miaow but this album shows there is still life in the band yet.

Alison Wheeler, still seen as the new girl on the block, despite this been her third album is stunning and she is rightly given lots to do, her voice is strong and sultry and the band have used this to great effect.

This is a really good album, and no one should be disappointed on hearing it.

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