So it was lovely listening, mellow and melodious. The blunter edge that was carried by the lyrics wasn't obvious straight away. This was probably because I hadn't read many of the song titles ("The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Woman vs The Extremely Talented Yet No So Attractive Middle Aged Man" or "Not Much Rhymes With Awesome At All Times").
What did come across first was that this was an album by a touring musician. There are plenty of references to places, travel and other performers, especially places. Two tunes about touring Europe ("UK Blues" and "UK Blues 2"), neither of which very complimentary about his time -moaning about a "fucking shuttle bus" on his way to Denmark ("Everybody's white/Everyone rides bikes) and about the riots in London ("As if this city isn't depressing enough/../It's all the rage/If your favourite colour's beige.") and about being heckled in Bristol. I'm with the heckler.
When he isn't complaining how ugly potential groupies are, he is aiming barbs at young, attractive women singers. "Red Poison" is about poisoning people with Chinese mushrooms and watching their skin change colour. He's exceptionally talented and underappreciated. A warm voice spilling out self-pity. It might be that he's an American Morrissey, arch and full of humour too clever for dull-minded listeners. But then I think Morrissey is a self-pitying eejit these days as well.
But he knows his way around a guitar, that much is plain. "Track Number 8" has a lovely classical role to it, while he sings about "empty Victorians that used to house whores". It's also about "how songwriting costs/It doesn't come free/Ask Elliott Smith" and how the song isn't too great and "will probably sequence at track number 8". You have to suffer to be a writer, see? - "It's hard to swallow your big, bright pills". He knows that they're "smothering something..eating at your guts". He has flow, but I don't much like the direction it flows. Even a song about a man that died who fixed his guitars has a hint of how inconvenient it is that he's not around.
My heart is not bleeding for him.
Rating: Vinegar Melodies out of Self-Pity And Talent