Justin Currie - The Great War (Rykodisc)

David Spencer | Saturday, 01 May 2010

Justin Currie - The Great War (Rykodisc)

Always having a tendency towards the hopeless romantic, Justin Currie penned some classic lovelorn pop with Del Amitri, and for a time the band conquered the charts, radio waves, and the US, where the album Twisted was well received. But then Travis stole the band's crown as Scotland's favourite filler of the acoustic rock airwaves and Del Amitri became slightly uncool.

Perhaps frustrated at this populist rejection, Currie then spent the noughties being far less than productive. Eventually he found a label to release 2007's What Is Love For, which was deliberately introspective and even the singer admits it was a hard listen. The second solo outing he says is far less autobiographical and there is more for those that remember Del Amitri's heyday to get excited about.

Currie's ability has often been to combine insightful relationship observations alongside a cracking tune, and here there are some fine examples. Lead single 'A Man With Nothing To Do', 'At Home Inside Of Me' and the excellent 'Can't Let Go Of Her Now' and are all so instant that it is frightening. Slowing the pace from these country-tinged rock songs are 'The Way That It Falls' and 'You'll Always Walk Alone', a serene ballad with a typical Currie lyrical twist.

But there's more to The Great War than the trademark singer-songwriter pop-rock, with 'Anywhere I'm Away From You' providing some unexpected funk and edge. The angry and tormented 'Everyone I Love' spits venom over a fuzzy keyboard and guitar and is a stand out moment; "Tonight I'm gonna hurt everyone I love, give my bitter side a little exercise ... give my jealousy a little company."

Currie's soulful voice is also in fine form throughout, particularly on the haunting ballad 'Baby, You Survived' ("And her shadow disappears, as you shine a light down the years, and torch that hallway of souvenirs"), but the eight-minute 'The Fight To Be Human' is perhaps a little self-indulgence too far.

Enough hardcore fans have survived since Del Amitri's demise for Currie to be performing at venues like Shepherd's Bush Empire, and this collection adds healthily to an already impressive catalogue for those lives shows. The Great War might not get short-listed for a Mercury (it should by the way), but Currie proves himself to be on a different level to many of the singer-songwriters of the last few years. Let's just hope he doesn't retire to those Glasgow bars for too long again.

Rating: 4.5/5