Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
There is a delicate nature that resides in even the stoniest of men. It might take the famed Heracles to make an additional scrawl on his list of labours in which to prise it out, but it will be found eventually.
One such person who has no need for Heracles or his famed strength is Del Amitri’s Justin Currie. The heart is not just on his sleeve, it seems to encompass everything he does and whether live on stage or recording music in the studio for his fans, the sleeve, the arm and the shirt are one big emotional scratching post for his haunting and very beautiful lyrics. Perhaps this has never been more true, certainly as a solo artist, than in his latest album release, Lower Reaches.
Lower Reaches harks to the thought of plumbing the absolute depths, but not in despair, this is no album in which to wallow blindly in or relish self pity in the form of another’s craving for sadness; it is instead allowing one’s heart to be cradled whilst observing the life that can be sought under the murky waters. The life that goes side by side with melancholic deliverance, with an cheerful rememberance that is swathed in spirits haunted by the past is always to be seen on the arms of a lyricist who has seen the depths a soul can dive to but who has taken inspiration from the many scenes that opened his eyes.
Lower Reaches is an album that offers much but never completely overwhelms the emotional responses of the listener. Mr. Currie is not acting as a host to be fed upon, just a guide in which areas of the soul should be seen and commented. In tracks such as Every Songs The Same, which could easily be a metaphor for many a finished romance, I Hate Myself For Loving You, On A Roll, the scintillating Half Of Me and the corking Priscilla, Lower Reaches beams at the listener and takes them carefully on a trip round a once tortured soul that has risen again but is mindful to leave a signpost or two to alert others to the pitfalls that lay in wait along the way.
Lower Reaches is an album of true accomplishment; of the rare contact between artist and the soul and it is a piece of music in which to celebrate life with, even when melancholy asks to come along for the ride.
Ian D. Hall