24 August, 2014 in Music Reviews
The English singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock returns with a poignant album of original material and songs he wished he’d written
he Man Upstairs is Robyn Hitchcock’s 20th solo studio recording and comes a year after his last effort, the acclaimed Love From London. He has teamed up with the legendary Joe Boyd to create an album which amalgamates original material and cover versions, or in Hitchcock’s words “songs I wished I’d written”.
These covers span from the well-known, The Doors The Crystal Ship and The Psychedelic Furs The Ghost In You, to more obscure numbers like Ferries by Norwegian indie band I Was A King. Hitchcock manages to unite these songs by allowing them space to breathe. He sings “I would leave you as you were, if I wanted to” on Roxy Music’s To Turn You On, but by stripping them back he has discovered a sense of himself in each of them.
The album’s originals share a similar feeling of autumnal plaintiveness. Left with minimal backing and few vocal effects, Hitchcock is laid bare. Trouble In Your Blood is a ballad that is up there with the psychedelic troubadour’s best and the bluesy Somebody To Break Your Heart showcases his more fun side. The achingly beautiful Recalling The Truth closes things and it is a track which wouldn’t sound out of place on Hitchcock’s 1984 masterpiece I Often Dream Of Trains.
The Man Upstairs is an album of reflective brilliance and shows that, whether in his own words or those of others, Hitchcock still has plenty to say.
Verdict: A stripped back autumnal delight