Album #131: Badly Drawn Boy – Banana Skin Shoes

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Bolton, England
  • Label: One Last Fruit
  • Best Track: I’m Not Sure What It Is

There’s a huge gap in my Badly Drawn Boy chronology. In fact, it pretty much jumps straight from his 2000 debut The Hour of Bewilderbeast to today, although I’ve heard bits of his 2002 releases Have You Fed the Fish? and the About A Boy soundtrack.

Today saw the release of Damon Gough’s ninth album under the name, and his first in eight years. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for his stuff. It’s not really what I’d normally listen to, but he’s such a likable bloke and his songs feel so heartfelt, I can’t help but take an interest. Plus the likes of ‘Once Around the Block’ and ‘Disillusion’ were really catchy songs, though both are now two decades old – let that sink in for a moment!

Anyway, Banana Skin Shoes doesn’t throw up too many surprises. It’s perhaps a more adult sound he’s cultivated over the years, with the more folky and ethereal whispers of his early work now phased out. Some songs on this, like Manchester homage ‘Tony Wilson Said’, (I’ve now mentioned Tony Wilson in successive reviews, somehow!) actually remind me of the funk and soul elements of Simply Red.

I really like the first two tracks, with the rasping jazz tones of the title track infectious, and ‘Is This A Dream?’ cool and effortless. My favourite is ‘I’m Not Sure What It Is’, perhaps because it sounds rather like ‘Once Around The Block’, with that chiming style of chorus that sounds a bit like an odd time signature, but I’m not sure it is? The waltzing ‘Funny Time of Year’ is another track to pick out.

Banana Skin Shoes seems very much like a love letter from Gough, at times to himself (‘Note to Self’) and at other times to his wife (‘I’ll Do My Best’). I don’t quite love the record myself, but it is another very solid one from a reliable and distinctive musician.

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