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

Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

The implosion of Latin American party music, gypsy-swing, klezmer jazz and loping reggae is familiar enough in this country: from Kantuta, the Nairobi Trio and the Jews Brothers Band to the Mamaku... > Read more

Sunken Seas: Null Hour (Muzai)

Sunken Seas: Null Hour (Muzai)

With the recent online-only release of Christchurch band Factories' The Supreme Cosmic Consciousness Births a Star Child in Negative Space album and now this tripped-out cosmic rock journey by... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: A-Kel of Tomorrow People

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE REGGAE QUESTIONNAIRE: A-Kel of Tomorrow People

They began life as a studio project . . . but the Wellington collective that is Tomorrow People quickly became a proper band, and one which took their name from the Ziggy Marley song and are... > Read more

CORNER GAS; SEASON THREE (Madman DVD)

CORNER GAS; SEASON THREE (Madman DVD)

Does Canada make the most consistently interesting but largely unseen television programmes? Possibly: any country which can give the world The Beachcombers (filmed in quaint Gibsons and sold... > Read more