& & by John Parks & & & &

Over the past decades, Manchester, Englan,d has been the breeding ground for many revolutionary musical trends and visionary musical groups. Bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, 808 State, The State Roses, and Oasis have brought fame to this industrial center. Manchester currently boasts Badly Drawn Boy, who cleverly weaves together many of these musical formats.

On Hour of Bewilderbeast Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) tells the story of a love affair from its beginnings to its demise. This CD is a coherent package: the 18 song titles read as chapter headings to inform the listener of the course this romance will take, from the opening instrumental, "The Shining" to "The Epitaph." The cover art combines Gough's face, Leonardo da Vinci's Renaissance man on a stylized Cathernine Wheel and a scattering of personal mementos. The liner notes continue the neat conceptual theme with roses and candles in various states of beauty and combustion -- ah, love.

Throughout the narrative, a tone of intimacy is created by Gough's personal and authentic folky vocal delivery. His soft-spoken voice shines with his use of inflected syncopations and powerful poetic images. The musical backdrop is ever changing, often reflecting the emotional route that this love affair is taking. Whether it be classical strings, acoustic guitar, groovy dance-beats, jazz, or hip hop, Gough feels at home. No wonder the British press have likened him to Beck and Paul Simon. A diverse audience should enjoy The Hour of Bewilderbeast as it is neither trendy nor sentimental -- just powerful music about L-O-V-E.

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