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Jon Allen Dead Man's Suit Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Precisely crafted but Allen’s delivery always seems to call to mind another voice.

Michael Quinn 2009

Feted by none other than Paul McCartney and sounding like a young Rod Stewart after a good gargle, Jon Allen follows up his attention-grabbing Land Rover advert soundtrack with an accomplished own-label debut album.

A one-time student of the Macca-backed Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Allen’s folk/pop ballad Going Home saturated commercial breaks last year but is, curiously enough, the weakest song on Dead Man’s Suit – a cliché-ridden sub-James Blunt affair about endlessly winding roads and ever-changing views always leading back to the object of affection. Dreary, in a word.

Happily, the rest is a clear cut above and the opening title track, with its ghostly Hammond accompaniment coming crisply to life, is a marker of good things to come. Allen’s crooned emery-board voice makes much of the Handbags and Gladrags-like In Your Light while Down by the River unapologetically draws its inspiration from late-period Faces.

The songs are precisely crafted but Allen’s delivery always seems to call to mind another voice. So the beautifully wistful Sleeping Soul is Wild Wood-era Paul Weller, Take Me to Heart summons up James Taylor in self-reflective mood, Young Man’s Blues smacks of Rod Argent, Bad Penny sounds like a David Gray off-cut and Friends concludes things with a gentle nod towards Joe Cocker.

And yet Dead Man’s Suit remains recognisably Allen’s and the sheer simplicity with which it is delivered – erring always on the pleasingly understated – proves a winningly intimate, if occasionally somewhat fey, formula.

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