Follow Us on Twitter

Duke Special - I Never Thought This Day Would Come

Duke Special, I Never Thought This Day Would Come

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DUKE Special – aka Peter Wilson – described the songs that makes up his third album, I Never Thought This Day Would Come as being more immediate and visceral than those on his previous, multi-platinum selling Songs From The Deep Forest.

Recorded between Wapping, London; Champaign, Illinois and Culleybackey, Northern Ireland, the LP was produced by long-time collaborator Paul Pilot and mixed by Nick Terry, best known for his work with the Klaxons and The Libertines, and boasts many writing collaborations, including sessions with Daniel Benjamin (drummer with German punk band Jumbo Jet), Paul Pilot, Phil Wilkinson and Bernard Butler.

The wind, brass and percussion of the RTE Symphony Orchestra, under the stewardship of the inimitable David Brophy, add a swirling carnival flavour to the proceedings, too.

The result is an intoxicating blend of songs that veer between epic and intimate, vaudeville and heartfelt. Just occasionally, the Belfast-based singer songwriter may strike as being a little too aloof and debonair.

Songs such as By The Skin of My Teeth possess a ramshackle quality that makes them appear more suited to the stage (or vaudeville), rather than an album.

But no matter what you make of his more adventurous undertakings, there’s no denying the power and quality of his more straight-forward offerings.

Album opener Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, for instance, is a beautifully composed piano-based number, that’s tender, intricate and a real heart-melter of an opening salvo.

It’s followed, in contrast, by the impossibly upbeat Sweet Sweet Kisses, which includes a foot-stomping back-beat and some breezy stabs of brass, to conjure the same giddy feeling you might get from kissing the one you love repeatedly.

The pace is reduced, once more, for the following track, Those Proverbs We Made In The Winter Must End, which again impressed with its heartfelt emotion and beautiful intimacy. Likewise, songs like Why Does Anybody Love?.

In more boldly adventurous form, Duke Special comes over all whimsical on upbeat ditties such as Diggin’ An Early Grave, title track Never Thought This Day Would Come (And Now It Won’t Go Away), which includes some wonderfully playful piano arrangements, and Flesh And Blood Dance.

But while such moments don’t really convey the best that Duke Special has to offer – and could certainly hinder his appeal into the mainstream – the quality of some of the earlier songs ensure that he’s done enough to capture a warm place in your hearts.

I Never Thought This Day Would Come is, therefore, a lovely listen that succeeds in spite of some of its more playful, off-mainstream flourishes. Enjoy!

Download picks: Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, Sweet, Sweet Kisses, Those Proverbs We Made In The Winter Must End, Why Does Anybody Love?, Let Me Go (Please, Please Please), Nothing Comes Easy

Track listing:

  1. Mockingbird Wish Me Luck
  2. Sweet, Sweet Kisses
  3. Those Proverbs We Made in the Winter Must End
  4. Diggin’ an Early Grave
  5. I Never Thought This Day Would Come (And Now It Won’t Go Away)
  6. Why Does Anybody Love?
  7. Flesh and Blood Dance
  8. If I Don’t Feel It
  9. Let Me Go (Please, Please, Please!)
  10. By the Skin of My Teeth
  11. Nothing Comes Easy
  12. Nothin’ You Could Do Can Bring Me Round