Clive Gregson pares his songs down to the core on his sixth album since parting ways with Christine Collister, 2004's Long Story Short, which presents this master singer/songwriter and guitarist in his purest form. Recorded at home with no accompaniment beyond Gregson's acoustic guitar (he switches over to piano and banjo for one song each), Long Story Short doesn't give Gregson any room to hide, but one listen confirms he certainly doesn't need any; as he says in his liner notes, "I'm often asked if any of my CDs are like my live show...this one is," and these performances speak of the confidence and grace of an experienced solo performer who knows his material and how to make it work. Like the recordings, the songs on Long Story Short are uncomplicated, and all the better for it; there's an unforced wit and easy honesty to these tunes about the usual ineffable mysteries of love and living, and Gregson's wordplay is clever without excess flash, just as his melodies are memorable without leading themselves into needless trickery (and still show glimmers of his past as a hook-happy power pop man). From the barbed humor of "My Bitter Half" and half-smiled cynicism of "All My Stories" to the childhood romance of "Over the Garden Wall" and the reassurance of "Cool Cool Rain," Long Story Short finds Gregson taking the stuff of ordinary lives and spinning it into something precious, and this album shows he needs no special tricks to work this alchemy other than his guitar and his voice. Lovely stuff.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming