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Leo Abrahams The Unrest Cure Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

A well-played, well-written exercise in post-ambient, intelligent rock.

Guy Hayden 2008

Leo Abrahams has made a name for as a 'musician's musician' having been called on to work with Imogen Heap, Ed Harcourt, Hal Willner, Bryan Ferry as well as a chance discovery by Brian Eno and subsequent appearances with Roxy Music, Paul Simon, Grace Jones et al. However, an accidental career as a session guitarist is one thing, a career as the creative driving force behind this album is something else. His first two solo releases were more ambient affairs but on The Unrest Cure he takes the guitar out of the chill cabinet and starts really cooking with it. Nothing so obvious as power chords or shredding going on here, but he has stretched the palette and mixed his evident skills with a compositional sense that was evidently part of the reason he was accepted by the Royal Academy in the first place.

He clearly does not consider himself a singer so he ropes in a bunch of collaborators. Mixing a jazz/rock sensibility with his classical arranging skills, Fragile Mind opens the album with singer/songwriter Kari Kleiv intoning the phrase with a fractured vulnerability that belies the strength contained within the orchestration. This string-driven theme is continued with the declamatory 2000 Years From Now, featuring Bingo Gazingo, a septuagenarian poet/performance artist that adds a bit of backbone to proceedings with a genuine sense of scale and power. KT Tunstall is next and things turn a little bit funkier with City Machine. The consistent elements of musicianship and on-the-nail playing will appeal to fans of Brian Eno (yes, him again) and his ilk.

So, this is a well-played, well-written exercise in post-ambient, intelligent rock. So, why does something seem to be missing? Some of the songs are just plain vapid, some seem to aspire to a self-conscious importance (Ultra-Romantic Parallel Universe stand up and be discounted). A couple do show just how a great album might have been in there somewhere - Remote with Merz, Devil's Mouth with Ed Harcourt and Epilogue are the standout vocal tracks (despite some rather tired film samples on the latter). But best of all is the really lovely instrumental, All Along, which has a purity and honesty that a host of guest singers fails to deliver.

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