Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Justin Currie's Great War

You might recognize the name Justin Currie; he was the former lead singer of Scottish behemoth's Del Amitri. Now on his own (seems to be the popular thing to do), he will release his second solo album The Great War in May. Three years on from his debut solo album, What Is Love For, Currie continues to develop his songcraft on his latest album and proves that with age comes maturity and better songs with a sense of optimism.

For the most part, The Great Warisn't as depressing or violent as the title would make it out to be. Although in listening to it's somber sweeping tones, one can't help but wonder if the great war that Currie is talking about on this record is between his emotions and his thoughts, words, and songs. Despite being a bit more upbeat and less grim then his debut, Currie still ambiguously toys with his emotions and makes you wonder at the same time. It's fascinating stuff to just sit and listen to because Currie paints pictures with broad strokes utilizing melody, lush orchestration, and harmonies to help illustrate his tales of doubt and disappointment. Trust me when I tell you, it's not nearly as bad as it sounds as The Great War is a fine folk rock album that while bittersweet is still in touch with it's inner pop song.

One listen to "Can't Let Go Of Her Now," will confirm this as the song is reminiscent of Elvis Costello at his most lovelorn. Currie's arrangements, use of strings, a sense of drama, and softly reassuring vocals make the songs here endearing and instantly likable. "Can't Let Go Of Her Now," like much of the album, is something that anyone can relate to and his complex, tense lyrical phrasing help carry the message home; this song is the perfect balance between the dim and the upbeat. In fact, much of The Great Waris like that and it's Currie's ability to balance his emotions and channel them into his music that makes the record listenable. If this would have been a pure folk record, instead of this ornate work, I would probably have fallen asleep by about the third song, but thankfully Currie's years of pop stardom has taught him how to keep peoples ears glued and their mind alert.

Tense and potentially depressing, The Great Warisn't the feel good hit of the spring or summer and that's because it's not quite sure of how it feels. Justin Currie, takes all that he knows and creates an apprehensive world that's occasionally upbeat and uplifting and filled with gallons of gorgeous melodies that no matter how quizzical will stir your emotions. The Great Waris a reaffirming sort of record that proves this famed songwriter and former band leader still has about ten aces up his sleeve and can still construct one heck of a song. Nice job Mr. Currie.

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