Monday, 5 July 2010

Calamateur – Each Dirty Letter (Autoclave Records)

When I think about singer songwriters I immediately imagine someone sat behind an acoustic guitar, playing songs that are extremely hard to differentiate from one another. Lots of acoustic guitar, lots of singing, oh and maybe a cello on track four to make it sound ‘different.’ Out of all the types of musicians out there singer songwriters have definitely got it hardest. The voice behind Calamateur, Andrew Howie, sings in the song ‘Bannoffee’; “Let’s break every little rule and transcend every dumb cliché.” And for a large part of this album he does just that.

Of course, there are the classic singer songwriter tracks in there, but these are placed amongst some really very interesting ideas. ‘Testimony’ is a bass heavy rock ballad. ‘City Is Mine’ has an electronic drum track emphasised by real drums (what, TWO drum tracks?!) with some proper ‘riffage’ in the middle. Last song on the album ‘A Crumbling Empire’ builds up layers of organs and guitars, with effects all over the vocals. This is not a classic singer songwriter album; it’s much more than that. If I hadn’t read the bumph that came with the CD I would have thought Calamateur were in fact a band, which is a good thing. This album is weird and wonderful, it’s dark and consuming - it’s not just a guy sat behind an acoustic guitar. 8/10

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