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Askew Review 15

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– Building a Road (Site) First things first, because this site is generally dedicated to punk music in it’s various forms, let me establish the fact that this is in no way a punk record.  If it has to get placed in one of those genre buckets that we critics seem to depend on, I’ll choose “soul”, but that’s not exactly right.  “Gospel” comes to mind, too, but that’s partly because of the photos on the cover and inside the lyric booklet, which depict what appears to be a very exciting, spirit-filled morning at a Black Baptist Church somewhere in the Deep South .  But here’s the twist:  Jonathan Spottiswoode is an educated, upper-class Englishman, with a voice that falls somewhere in the Tom Waits/Leonard Cohen end of the spectrum; and whose lyrics are almost worthy of comparison to those two legendary songwriters, as well.  This is a mature album, full of the whole range of emotions that real human life is made up of, from the unbounded joy and optimism of “The Youngest Child” to the sorrowful, remorseful, apologetic “I Didn’t Hurt You Intentionally”.  From the promise of better times to come in “You Will Rise Again” to the depressing sense that life may not even be worth getting out of bed for in “Lazarus”.  But the underlying message that runs throughout is best expressed in the title song, which is a celebration of the importance of impossible ambitions and unachievable goals, i.e.: building a road from the moon to the sun.  This is grown up music, but should not be confused with Adult Contemporary.  It’s music with soul and grit.  The performances are thrilling, if imperfect.  In the lead track “Drunk”, the horn section plays all out of tune and out of time, like they might if they were, indeed, drunk; while, on other tracks, they’re as tight and funky as the guys from Muscle Shoals.  This is one of the best cds I have heard in a long time, of any genre.  I imagine it will be in heavy rotation in my cd player for a long time to come. -Brian Mosher



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