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

Beth Hart: Better Than Home (Provogue/Warners)

Beth Hart: Better Than Home (Provogue/Warners)

Hart may have a troubled soul – junk, booze and family matters all took their toll – but at her extraordinary Powerstation show last month she proved a good-humoured survivor with... > Read more

David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk (SonyBMG)

David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk (SonyBMG)

Although perhaps only the most dedicated Pink Floyd fan might want this double disc (or the double CD-double DVD version, or the collectors edition which is a five disc set!) let's get a little... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MIRAGE by  EDWARD DMYTRYK (Madman DVD)

MIRAGE by EDWARD DMYTRYK (Madman DVD)

In his subject-shifting epic Brownsville Girl of 1986, Bob Dylan sang, “I'm standin' in line in the rain to see a movie starring Gregory Peck, Yeah, but you know it's not the one that I had... > Read more

Jean Claude Vannier: Les Mouches (1973)

Jean Claude Vannier: Les Mouches (1973)

French writer/arranger and producer Vannier has worked with anyone who counts in his home country (Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Juliette Greco, jazz pianist Martial Solal etc) as well as Astor... > Read more