Andy White - Songwriter

by Al Brown Rating:2 Release Date:2010-09-29

The worst thing you can say about an artist is that they are conceited. I've personally spent many hours laying into bands (normally Americana or folky types) for being fake, and I don't take it lightly, I realise what a phenomenal body-blow it is to call someone out for not being 4-REAL, even if they're really asking for it. Despite his Americana leanings, I'm not going to question Andy White's ingenuousness, even though he's from Belfast. His vocals are warm and pleasant - on the cover a picture of a man in his 40s with the benign smile of someone with arseful of Valium - yes, it sort of fits.

God damn the whole thing is crushingly dull though, and the songs are so glacially slow you can barely believe the sleeve when it says they're all around four minutes. As I write I'm trudging my way through 'Start All Over Again' which is destroying me with its straight-up blandness. Note to Mr White: "Sunshine/Daydream/Fast car/Getaway" is not a fucking verse of music, it's five related words strung together: even Des'ree would slap herself about the head for thinking that was adequate. Naturally, the music here sounds a bit like an elevator-lounge version of 'Itchycoo Park' by the Small Faces. "Bedknobs/Broomsticks/Driving/Cinema/Get home/Night-time/Warm milk/Sleepy-head" goes the last verse. I mean: really, that's actually all the effort you're putting in?

It's probably the low-point admittedly, but 'Start All Over Again' is representative of all this record's most glaring flaws. There's just an utter laziness in lyricism, melody and instrumentation that pervades the whole thing. White has nothing interesting to say, and insists on saying it extremely slowly. "I wanna live/In Notre Dame cathedral/And feed my mind/with art and books/Speaking French/In 1920s cafes" he confides in 'When I Come Back', reassuring us that he has the exact same fantasy as every other bourgeois fortysomething on the entire planet. Musically, White claims Celtic influences but these are only obvious on one song ('Kathleen') and the rest is pure AOR. Another thing I noticed is that he sounds noticeably less committed - bored, even - on the second half of the album. Opening songs 'The Valley of My Heart' and 'If You Want It', are sung with some degree of passion, with the help on the latter of some nice female backing vocals. By the time the last song ('Twelve String Man') comes along it's as if White has realised, along with the rest of us, just how weak the material is, and the realisation has blindsided him to such a degree he can barely find the will to cross the finish line.

The press release compares Andy White with David Gray. Let me tell you, David Gray is Leonard Cohen if this guy is David Gray. And maybe there are worse things than just calling an artist conceited.

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