Follow Us on Twitter

Paul Heaton - The Cross Eyed Rambler

Paul Heaton, The Cross Eyed Rambler

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IT’S disappointing to have to report that the first solo album from Paul Heaton since his split from the Beautiful South is something of a let down.

The sardonic wit that marked many BS songs remains intact, as well as the kooky melodies, but musically this is much less a pop record than it is a collection of country and rockabilly. That in itself makes it a more restrictive listen.

Lead single Mermaids And Slaves was a little bit of a false start. Opening with some brisk guitars and a vibrant mouth organ, it was a breezy observation on Northern life that set a blistering pace. The backing “oohs” and “aahs” felt borrowed from Brian Wilson’s copybooks, while the jangling guitars owed plenty to the Beautiful South and even The La’s in their prime. But it’s an easy highlight.

Elsewhere, the album is much more restrained and nowhere near as much fun. The lazy folk-country of The Ring From Your Hand, for instance, finds Heaton in Alan Bennett mode, without being as endearing, while the rockabilly stomp of Little Red Rooster eventually becomes repetitive and annoying.

God Bless Texas is another disappointment – a basic song in many ways that contains enough energy to get the barnfloors jumping up and down; but which seems to be missing that vital spark of quality.

The Cross Eyed Rambler isn’t necessarily a bad album, and perhaps it has more to do with my musical taste, but I’d been expecting more from Heaton, based upon his previous work across 14 studio albums.

Only really Mermaids And Slaves, The Balcony and A Good Old Fashioned Town really stood out and made me want to return to them. Otherwise, it’s lyrically astute, but musically flat – and that’s not an accusation you can aim at much of Heaton’s previous work.

Download picks: Mermaids And Slaves, The Balcony, A Good Old Fashioned Town

Track listing:

  1. The Cross Eyed Rambler
  2. I Do
  3. Mermaids And Slaves
  4. The Pub
  5. A Good Old Fashioned Town
  6. The Ring From Your Hand
  7. The Balcony
  8. Deckchair Collapsed
  9. Little Red Rooster
  10. God Bless Texas
  11. The Kids These Days
  12. Everything Is Everything