Soundlab – 11th May 2012
Danny Coughlan is Crybaby, simple as that really. No frills or need to dress it up in any other way. Armed with his plaintive but soulful voice and his penchant for all things classic 50s/60s, he delivers his heart and soul on this his eponymous album.
Coughlan raids the simplicity of Buddy Holly’s arrangements, the smooth vocal tones of Roy Orbison and the production techniques of Phil Spector. Yes, he likes to look back for his influences but some of his influences are more recent; see opener ‘I Cherish the Heartbreak’ which drops a nod to Stephen Patrick Morrissey’s solo work. The subtle strings and fairground organ complement Coughlan’s tones.
“We’re supposed to be in love”, belts out Coughlan on the song of the same name, followed by the crushing line “So how come we found so many different ways and means of breaking our heart”. He delivers it in a bewildered tone but in an enchanting way which separates it from other break-up songs by surrounding Coughlan in uplifting and mellifluous musical arrangements.
The warm, chugging guitar on ‘When the Lights Go Out’ is simply lovely and almost enough to instigate a mild boogie. ‘Armies of Darkness’ is a collection of bare musical bones over which Coughlan croons in a way not dissimilar to Elvis Presley. He returns to his miserablist best with the downtrodden ‘This Time It’s Over’ and on which he laments “‘Why is it always up to you?”
There are shades of Spector all over ‘Shame’ with a master-class in primitive, economic drumming mirrored by some beautifully trebly guitar and reverb. The stomping guitar and pounding drums of ‘Twist of the Knife’ is completely out place with the rest of the album but it storms along and encapsulates Coughlan’s virtuoso ability by using an healthy breadth of eclectic and varied musical instruments.
He ends with the hauntingly maudlin but sublime ‘What Am I Supposed to Do Without You Now?’. Coughlan could be ridiculed for focussing on one subject – lost love, but his heartbroken lyrics and the maelstrom of music here meld seamlessly to make this one of the most compelling listens of 2012. Stunning. – Steve Reynolds
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