Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
All hail the king of British lo-fi....
on 30 April 2003
Stephen Jones is a legend. An uncut diamond in the rough. Throughout the 90s he produced five sparse, intimate and incredibly beautiful 4-track recorded albums which illustrated an eccentric, but ever so talented mind. Then he incorporated a full band sound, found fame for a while with his one major chart hit "You're Gorgeous". After releasing several albums under this ultimately unsatisfying 'big band' sound he has now eventually returned back to his lo-fi roots and lost the Baby Bird moniker with this - "Almost Cured of Sadness".
And it is a triumph. It succeeds in being a compromise between the sparse and eccentric, Casio keyboard sounds of his lo-fi albums and the more accomplished, guitar, drums, bass driven sound of his "big band" days. This is quite a strange idea as on the face of it there is little use of the standard band set-up, Jones mainly relying on samples, and the interwoven vocals that he mastered on the 4-track, that said there is a definite gulf between his early albums and this. A gulf in the sense that there is a lot more going on, a benefit of using an 8-track is that he has filled in the minimalist gaps that appeared on the darker "Fatherhood" and given greater depth without losing the atmosphere that was created.
Weighing in at 69 minutes with a whopping nineteen tracks, this is a pop epic in the purest of senses and the highlights come thick and fast. "Keys to Your Brain" is an eerie introduction to the world of the album, Jones' falsetto sounding childlike and disturbing in the manner only he can really do. This theme is continued throughout many of the early stages of the album with Jones' voice and the music providing a contrast to the often dark lyrical content, examples would be "Underneath the Rainbow" and "Friend".
As the album develops, Jones returns to a more natural octave and begins to shine even brighter. "Someplace Too Faraway", "Sitting In My Graveyard", "Jesus Freaks & Candy Asses" are all fantastically structured and beautifully carried out songs which rate among Jones' best, dealing with obtuse and surrealistic themes such as happily walking around in graveyards and barcodes on foreheads.
I am a massive fan of Baby Bird and more particularly Stephen Jones as a songwriter and musician. Talents like this don't come along very often, a man who is as accomplished writing a novel and developing artwork for his CDs as he is creating complex, surreal, intense and intimate recordings. Give him a chance and reap the rewards.
A must buy.