Justin Currie

The Great War

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Those expecting a continuation of Justin Currie's work with Del Amitri were likely disappointed by his somber 2007 solo debut. While the album was professionally crafted, its overriding melancholy mood was quite a reversal from the bouncy, jangly pop that put Del Amitri on the charts for a short while. Now that it's out of his system, Currie returns to the sound he's best known for on his sophomore solo effort. The opening track, "A Man with Nothing to Do," sporting ringing guitars and an instantly hummable chorus, even seems like a rewrite of "Not Where It's At." There are lovelorn ballads here, but they are lightened by Currie's typically wry wordplay and hooks every bit as memorable as those that defined the best Del Amitri songs. As usual, the lyrics explore darker themes of lost love and relationships gone or going bad, but they do so with underlying wit and the often self-deprecating humor Currie is famous for. Musically, the appearance of Amitri guitarist Mick Slaven also can't help but reference the sound of Currie's old band. Slaven's twisted slide solo in "Everyone I Love" is one of this album's defining moments and shows that Currie isn't afraid to color outside of the pop/rock boundaries he generally stays within. Currie's vocals have also taken on an older/wiser quality, somewhat like those of Paul Carrack. There is no mistaking his distinctive voice as it meshes pathos and wisdom with tinges of light, especially on introspective material such as "You'll Always Walk Alone." Certainly The Great War is more commercially oriented than his previous release, but there are also moments when Currie shows that, unlike the majority of his radio-ready songs in Del Amitri, he's comfortable in less jaunty waters. That makes this set satisfying on many levels and should win back the Amitri fans he might have alienated the last time around.

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