Yeah, I know – the post title is dumb. Let’s just all agree on that so we can move on from there to other things.
Other things like the new album from Eugene Francis Jnr.
I know I’ve had a lot about Eugene on here lately, but that’s just because I really dig his music, and his publicity peeps keep sending me great new stuff. So… I’ve become a servant of The Man now I guess, putting up whatever comes my way. But at least I get to score free stuff.
Well, now that I’ve confessed that I’m a sellout, let me move on to the album itself. I scored a pre-release copy of The Golden Beatle last week from the nice folks at Legion Presents, and it’s almost everything I hoped it would be.
The album, which EFJ describes (here) as, “a summary of life, the peaks and troughs of this great ride which we all find ourselves on,” is a nice and full 12 songs. You won’t feel ripped off like when you get an album that’s only got 8 or 9 songs on it. I don’t know about you, but I hate paying full price for an album that’s really just an EP. I guess I get most of my songs as individual downloads at e-music now anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.
Like most albums, there are some amazing, knock-it-out-of-the-park songs and some OK songs and some songs you’d rather live without, but on the whole the album is really great. There are a lot of people out there doing music like Eugene Francis Jnr, and his lyrics aren’t mind-blowingly original (they are very good and witty), but not many of them can do it as well as he can.
And even fewer have the same awesome accent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sing with a British, Scottish, Irish, or Welsh accent and I’ll probably like your music. So that’s one point for Eugene right off the bat. He gets another for having harmonica on some songs, which I’ve also mentioned will usually win me to your music.
But beyond superficial things, how does the album line up with my expectations? Well, given how incredible the single “Poor Me” was, I was hoping for every song on the album to be equally poetic, catchy, and musically interesting. The truth is that not every song is a hit, but the album is really good and solid overall.
My favorite song on the album is probably “The Golden Beatle,” which has to share its name with the title of the entire album. The song does happen to have both Eugene’s awesome accent and a harmonica part, but I’d probably like it even without those. It’s a sad song, tinged with hints of love and hope, and the mix of instrumentation with the lyrics is exceptional. Guitar, banjo, synthesizer, harmonica, and drums weave in and out, all creating the mood the lyrics seem to need. It’s a very well-produced song in every aspect.
Then you’ve got the driving Scottish jig/bar song feel of “Hobo Occupation,” with hilarious lyrics like “the consequence to living is that we’re all gonna die someday,” “never count your chickens but you must always watch them hatch,” “the politicians are going straight to hell,” “my dear friend has a famous wife and they haven’t split up yet,” and “it doesn’t pay to spoil your kids – if they grow up to be musicians, guaranteed, their music will all be [crap].” It feels like your grandpa giving you a lecture on how to live right, other than the line, “when you meet your maker in this life, tell her you’ve met your match.” No grandpa would ever call God a woman. And that’s a fact. (In case you couldn’t tell, EFJ makes no claims to being a Christian. I just like his music. If you’re interested, you can read some more of his spiritual thoughts here.)
And, oh, what’s this I hear on “Hobo Occupation” at around 3:28? That’s right, it’s a harmonica solo. Man, this must be my lucky day.
“My Own Pollution” is an interesting song along similar lines to “Hobo Occupation,” talking about the brokenness of humankind. The line “And I’ll make my own pollution in my mind, and I’ll find my own solution but give me time,” kind of sums up what most people think about life and their mistakes. In reality, though, you won’t find your own solution most of the time. You’ll just keep making more and more mistakes until you finally give in and let God take charge of your life.
“Kites” is a sweet song using some religious imagery and the metaphor of a kite to talk about the ups and downs of life. It’s pretty simple lyrically, but there are some cool rhymes like “wholly” and “matrimony.” I don’t know, but it just sounds cool when your rhyme those two words together. It’s sort of one of those stupid inspirational kinds of songs that you can picture fat divorced people singing to each other, but I like it. Sorry for the word picture.
The rest of the album is really good, but I don’t want to bore you with details. Like I said before, there are some great songs and some OK songs. I don’t think I really disliked any of the songs, but maybe about half of them were just OK. All in all, though, it’s an album worth having, especially if you like folk, alt-folk, or music from the UK. Or harmonicas.