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Friday, September 17, 2004

Graeme Downes -- Hammers and Anvils

Last Verlaines post for the foreseeable future, really:

The other day I mentioned the Tin Pan Alley influence that started creeping into the Verlaines' work. It's in full effect on this Downes solo album, to the CD's benefit and its detriment. The disc's strongest track is easily "Cole Porter" (there's a giveaway on the influence). The brilliant and catchy refrain:

"I've been plundering all of Cole Porter this morning
To find me a rhyme half as beautiful as you."

Hammers and Anvils is a good record, but parts are a little too cabaret for my tastes. I do appreciate the clever lyrics, though, and that's Downes' strength on this record. Musically, he does a great job allowing the empty spaces, and the production is really well-done, without being too crisp. His rock skills shien when he lets them, as on "Cattle, Cars and Chainsaws" and its great lead guitar line.

It's an album worth getting, but I'd start on with some Verlaines first, possibly Hallelujah All the Way Home.


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