Follow Us on Twitter

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott - Wisdom, Laughter and Lines (Review)

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE second collaboration between Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott since their Beautiful South heyday offers more of the same in terms of the way it combines lyrical wit and humour with a strong social conscience.

Yet, in Abbott’s own words, there’s a more “upbeat” vibe on the record, which is evident in the breeziness of a lot of the melodies. As entertaining as things are, however, there’s also a nagging sense that some of the tracks here sound a little too samey.

If that sounds harsh given the ambitious nature of the song-writing, or the mix of styles that’s to be found in other places (courtesy of Heaton’s expert knowledge of the industry and genre), then it should also not take away from the feeling that Wisdom, Laughter and Lines buzzes when on form. And this is when it decides to keep things at their most upbeat and/or scathing.

Hence, you can’t help but smile when a track like State Vs Jeeves opens with the line “your on benefits” and proceeds to deliver a wittily scathing attack on benefit cheats. And yet, the handclap beats, cute hooks and bright boy-girl vocal exchange suggests a romp of a record that hasn’t a care in the world.

Similarly, the Elvis Presley-vibed Wives 1, 2 & 3 offers rock ‘n’ roll revelry wrapped in a tale of a marital scoundrel who burns through women. It’s sharp and fun and a highlight.

Former single The Austerity of Love smartly combines reggae and bubblegum pop (complete with lines about “sugar and honey-comb”) and a doozy chorus that proclaims “the obesity of love”. It’s a strong example of where the album drops in some stylistic changes.

Heatongrad, meanwhile, adds more grit and an opening line that declares “f**k the king and f**k the queen” over a military-style drum beat and some rockabilly guitars. It later declares “f**k the army, f**k the world and f**k the uniform” whilst referencing hotspots like the streets of Baghdad. It’s the sound of the LP at its most scathing and robust… and it’s another highlight, especially when seguing into a Greek-style sing-along mentality around the three minute mark.

More straight-forwardly rocking, on the other hand, is The Horse and Groom. But the electric guitars and edgy vocal from Heaton work a treat in elevating this to another favourite – much like the fiery Capital Love, which rounds off the album on the deluxe edition.

However, it’s on tracks like I Don’t See Them, Lonesome and Sad Millionaire, The Queen of Soho and (Man Is) The Biggest Bitch of All that the album reverts a little too closely to formula. The Queen of Soho, in particular, could be an old Beautiful South record for long periods, despite some tweaks to the formula. And we’ve moved on since then.

At its best, Wisdom, Laughter and Lines delights; but it’s not always as consistently entertaining as it could have been… it’s best moments casting a shadow over its more average ones.

Download picks: Wives 1, 2 & 3, The Austerity of Love, Heatongrad, The Horse And The Groom, Capital Love

Track listing:

  1. (Man Is) The Biggest Bitch Of All
  2. The Austerity Of Love
  3. I Don’t See Them
  4. Heatongrad
  5. Sundial In The Shade
  6. Lonesome And Sad Millionaire
  7. The Queen Of Soho
  8. The Horse And Groom
  9. When Love For Woman Stops
  10. No One Wants To Stay
  11. Wives 1, 2 & 3
  12. You, The Mountain And Me
  13. State Vs Jeeves
  14. Real Love
  15. Fair Share Of Breathing
  16. Capital Love

  1. I think you’ll find the “sing along” on Heatongrad is Russian… there’s a clue in the name… ‘D’oh!’

    Bryan Appleton    Oct 27    #
  2. State Vs. Jeeves – ‘’…attack people on benefits ?’‘ Yep. BILLIONAIRES… on benefits ! Re-listen and THINK [maybe you DID think,then bowed to your paymasters ?!!! – ?]

    MK Ultra    Oct 29    #