(Navigator Records, 2009)
Boo Hewerdine has been writing and performing in the more interesting margins of the UK music scene for over twenty years now, attracting something of a cult following, that more recently appears to be gathering momentum. Hewerdine has always appeared to command the respect of those in the music industry, and his associations with the likes of Eddi Reader and Clive Gregson, whose work similarly defies categorisation, offers a good indication as to what you can expect here, in terms of both style and quality.
"Geography" opens the album with four minutes of the most perfect acoustic pop you could imagine: wonderfully light and nimble guitar picking, the lazy pluck of a banjo, a breezy accordion, expressive percussion, and Heidi Talbot's assuredly beautiful harmonies. Even the more melancholy of Hewerdine's songs are like a tonic, such as on "Soul Mate" where the gentle and soothing tone of his voice provides a welcoming reassurance.
"Rags" and "It's A Beautiful Night" are probably about as close to a torch ballad as you're likely to hear from Hewerdine, lacking the camp melodrama of Rufus Wainwright, though nonetheless possessing a subtle flamboyance, with Hewerdine's beautifully understated delivery seeking affinity with the listener.
For me, the opening line to "You and Me" provides one small yet significant moment: "and the sky is paintbox blue." It may seem like a throwaway line of little consequence, yet Hewerdine delivers it with such expressiveness, that you're immediately transported to a sweeping watercolour vista. And it's this thought that may provide the perfect analogy: with God Bless The Pretty Things, Hewerdine offers a sound whose overall subtlety belies the precision of its many parts, with a beauty that might well be described as aural watercolour.
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