Interest in the album should not be restricted to Blur fans in search of snapshots...
Daniel Pike 2002-11-20
The Kiss Of Morning - Blur man Graham Coxon's third solo effort is raw, tender and acutely personal. The theme, a man battling alcoholism inevitably smacks a bitter, remorseful taste, and there is little soft and sweet here.
Dominated by critical first person lyrics, third person intrusions appear as detached self criticism, as evident in the folky, "Baby You're Out Of Your Mind"; '...you'll end up dead...brain cells diminished and underfed'.
The temptation for listeners familiar with Coxon's recent strife to read The Kiss Of Morning as a very literal journal of Coxon's state of mind. And lyrics like 'That's it, I've got to get out before we fall out again', simply don't help.
However, interest in the album should not be restricted to Blur fans in search of snapshots into Coxon's psyche. It stands up to scrutiny on its own merits and is best listened to divorced from the distraction of the Blur split.
A stripped down acoustic guitar sound pervades, yet Graham draws widely on a host of musical traditions. Compositions range from extreme simplicity to wonderful complexity. No verse, chorus, verse reliance here.
"Latte" involves just a Nick Drake style finger-picked accompaniment. Longingly romantic "Live Line" is backed by a simple folk blues riff. A rolling piano shifts the album to a smoky jazz blues feel in "Locked Doors", culminating in Graham's guitar swatting all asunder, providing a convincing impersonation of non-specific industrial power tools.
A massive gothic organ lifts the sublime "Escape Song" up a gear before a Syd Barrett guitar hook progresses the track to a stomping fuzzed rock finale. The murderously spiteful "Song For The Sick" affects an Irish folk style, with the refrain 'Die Taylor die, you ain't no friend of mine'.
"Mountain Of Regret" provides the album's peak. This is a full on and truly awesome country ballad replete with slide guitars, absent loves and heaps of melancholia. A lyrical taster: "...turned my back on her true love, all my friends and the Lord above. And my drinking dragged me down... "
On the 13th track Graham implores "I want you to remember, the good times". However, The Kiss of Morning reveals good times to be sparse, and life to be far from a walk in the park for most. Fragility, anger, violence and regret provide the timbre of an emotionally charged and musically diverse album. Coxon's best work yet.
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