SJD: Songs from a Dictaphone (Round Trip Mars/EMI)

 |   |  <1 min read

SJD: Lucifer
SJD: Songs from a Dictaphone (Round Trip Mars/EMI)

My guess is critical consensus on this album will settle on the phrase, "not as good as the last one". But that last one, the sublime Southern Lights of 2004, set such a high threshold that SJD (Sean James Donnelly) was always going to have that comment aimed at him.

That said, there is something to it: I Wrote This Song For You and Just Say No To The Disco Inferno here seem slight, if cheerfully poppy.

Yet everywhere else this Auckland multi-instrumentalist, songcraftsman and multiple threat offers such memorable songs and clever (but not clever-clever) ideas that this seduces at almost every turn.

So here are lovely ballads; vocal deliveries like Bono at his most sensitive best (Lucifer) or Roxy-period Bryan Ferry (I Am The Radio); suggestions of Penguin Cafe Orchestra quirkiness (the hypnotic Black is a Beautiful Colour); and gorgeous tracks such Beautiful Haze and The Last I Saw of Maryanne.

The trilogy of "religious songs" at the centre -- Jesus, I Am The Radio and Lucifer -- might be a matter of taste for some (they sound fine and even amusing to me). Lyrically SJD is as allusive as ever ("rise up and smash your beautiful chains"), but what is intriguing here is just how much 80s electrofunk pop (Roxy, OMD and Pseudo Echo -- which is a compliment!) has been assimilated into his own distinctive musical voice.

Remarkable stuff. So over the long haul, "not as good as the last one" seems pretty irrelevant.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Sonic Youth: The Eternal (Matador)

Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth recently noted that they were the Grateful Dead or Rolling Stones of their generation. He meant it seemed they had been around a very, very long time and were still out... > Read more

Bilders: Mindful and Mean Time (both Powertools)

Bilders: Mindful and Mean Time (both Powertools)

Bilders (sometimes Bildrine) is the nom de disque of Bill Direen -- and that French there is not being pretentious as Direen spends much of his time in France, and the Mean Time album was largely... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Tab Benoit: Medicine (Telarc)

Tab Benoit: Medicine (Telarc)

Soulful blues with a dark bayou twist is Tab Benoit's musical style, but he also locates lyrics in this world, whether it be a relationship going to hell (“We've been fighting over... > Read more

OHMYNEWS: The Korean model of citizen journalism (2008)

OHMYNEWS: The Korean model of citizen journalism (2008)

The e-mail from Jean K. Min is clear, he tells me they are located in the Nuritkum Square Business Tower, “a huge futuristic building in the centre of Digital Media City, you cannot miss... > Read more