John Cunningham

Happy-Go-Unlucky

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John Cunningham's previous release, Homeless House, was praised up and down for being a late-period Beatlesque, Nick Drake-ian, Belle & Sebastian-ish, low-key chamber pop gem. The only problem is that the CD was impossible to get a hold of. Luckily, the follow-up, Happy-Go-Unlucky, is even more of a gem and is much easier to find, as it is on the distributor-friendly Parasol label. If those bands mentioned previously (along with Emitt Rhodes, Elliott Smith, Richard Davies, and maybe Squeeze) mean anything to you and if you like your pop music on the hushed and autumnal side, by all means pick this record up. You won't be disappointed. The songs are all extremely well crafted and mostly melancholy, driven by piano and filled out with strings, trumpets, and organ, and on "Can't Get Used to This" a stinging Harrison-styled guitar solo. On top of the lush arrangements surrounded by heavenly vocal harmonies sits Cunningham's gentle voice, sounding quite Lennon-esque throughout. The standout track is "You Shine," which sounds like it would fit right in on The Beatles [White Album]. Actually, all the tracks sound like they could be on that record -- or on a Emitt Rhodes record or the Cardinal record. Happy-Go-Unlucky is a hidden gem and hopefully the start of a long string of great pop records from John Cunningham.

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