By Duke Special
Duke Special has always been an interesting and unique artist - mixing old-fashioned gramophone and ragtime piano sounds with a modern song writing sensibility, heartfelt and often painfully personal lyrics, and an outrageous dreadlocked hairstyle.
Unfortunately the hairstyle can't be fully appreciated on this record, but what can be is the Duke's (real name Peter Wilson) talent for a bloody good tune. 'Sweet Sweet Kisses' is very deserving of the double use of the word sweet, as charming clarinets and flutes lead a fantastically chiming and tinkling ditty, and 'Digging An Early Grave' sounds like a medieval fairground ride played at double speed, complete with oompah accordions and sound effects that wouldn't sound out of place on the ghost train in Skegness.
All this is very wonderful, but it's not really Duke's default setting. He's more at home with his plaintive piano balladry, and a good half of the songs here follow a fairly similar vain. At times they're intense and touching, such as 'Why Does Anybody Love' with lines such as "I am more than broken/ so dig a hole and in I'll crawl." However, others can start sounding samey, and despite many nice vaudeville touches, sections of the album begin to drag.
Despite this, it's still a album well worth your time, and before long you'll want to enter Duke Special's fantastic and curious world.