Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Beautiful South's Superbi Recording

As published in The North Shore News, Friday, February 2, 2006

Album: Superbi
Artist: The Beautiful South
Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewer: Stephanie Kiernan

The Bitter and the Sweet

Whatever bitterness Paul Heaton can amass with his lyrical tales, The Beautiful South have managed to maintain their sweet temperament within their melodies. This paradoxical mix is the deliberate bill of fare with the band’s eleventh album, “Superbi”.

Paul Heaton and David Hemingway cast themselves as The Beautiful South after their initial partnership as The Housemartins dissolved in the late 1980’s.
Hailed as one of the most British of songwriters, Heaton, and his distinctive voice, makes The Beautiful South easy to digest. Nevertheless, the harmonic template has been a blend of Heaton, Hemingway and a female vocal component – recently with third time’s a charm, Alison Wheeler filling that role. She throws herself into the established mix right from the album’s opening track, The Rose Of My Cologne; as does a peculiar Country clang.

Superbi narrates classic elements of English sentiment and cynicism, never mincing rhyme, as “you know when romance is dead, that deathly cold blast from his side of the bed” shakes When Romance Is Dead. But it’s the invasion of steel guitar and banjo that steer us far from British bleakness. Though I find a mental image of the very British Paul Heaton sporting cowboy boots, a straw hat and line-dancing more than amusing, it isn’t the clever timbre I expect from The Beautiful South. Nevertheless, hardnosed TBS fans are likely to allow such novelty. This markedly buoyant country recording may only remain a semi-sweet keepsake in my own CD collection.

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