Saturday 24 March 2018

Music: Catholic by Gavin Friday * * *

John Meagher

John Meagher

It's been 16 years since his last album, Shag Tobacco, but Gavin Friday has been kept going since then, what with several movie soundtracks (Jim Sheridan films, mostly), an acclaimed turn reinterpreting Jacques Brel and a stint as "creative consultant" for buddies U2. Quite what the latter role involves is anyone's guess.

He has also experienced illness, the break-up of his marriage and the death of his father -- all of which have been channelled into this slow-burning album.

Friday remains a frustratingly patchy songwriter -- and much of the latter part of catholic (deliberately lower case) is forgettable -- yet, when he's on form the results are remarkable. Blame is a touching confessional that recalls latter-era Bowie, while Able is a languid, ruminative piece showcasing the smoky, careworn vocals of a 51-year-old who has lived a little. The sensitive, understated production is from Ken Thomas -- who helmed Cocteau Twins and Sigur Rós -- and Thomas's daughter, Amy Odell, lends her voice to a number of tracks.

Burn it: Blame; Able

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