There's a damn sight more depth than your average manufactured band here.
Lucy Davies 2009-05-13
Eg White. His brains were behind hits like Will Young’s Leave Right Now, Duffy's Warwick Avenue and Adele's Chasing Pavements as well as The Eg And Alice. But this is his own solo album, full of personal songs, which don't necessarily follow the formula of those he writes for others.
More of a collection of memoirs and reflections than an album, Adventure Man is not tidy or cohesive, and as a long play listen it's almost confusing.
Here's why: Eg's voice, while seeming to improve as the album progresses, has a naivety that is almost embarrassing.
It's not as though his tuning or phrasing is weird, but his thin, broken-up Neil Young timbre is often at odds with the production. This is most clear on the first track, But California, where you might be forgiven for thinking he's imitating a child.
The lyrics are in the main pretty out-there. Weird Friendless Kid is about an outsider child with a purple lunch box, ''just a bubble in a perfect paint job, brings everybody down, yes you do… ''. The album's imaginativeproduction, is varnished with an X Factor/Pop Idol winning sheen. Given that the songs are in a variety of styles this one-size-fits-all approach is hit and miss.
Happily, there are hits: Til The End is a breezily soulful which works well with the voice, nice wah-wah guitar, and a little cheeky synth string riff; Broken is a lovely searing ballad, building up to a soaring wall of sound chorus; There's Gonna be Someone is possibly the kindest song ever written, sung from the viewpoint of an older brother; Whatever Makes You Sick is an accurate portrayal of an archetypal alcoholic's behaviour.
In some of its finer moments, the album recalls 10CC or Sparks, but often Eg seems to be at odds with himself, almost as though he’s waiting for someone else to replace his vocals, and possibly some of the lyrics.
He risks underselling them to an audience that simply won't understand what he's trying to do. And that would be a shame as there's a damn sight more depth than your average manufactured band here. Hopefully listeners can sift through to find it.