There’s something poignant about a singer and their guitar. If they’re able to really grab your attention and not be a mere backdrop to a latte frappe, then any added instrumentation is just whipped cream on your mocha.
Damon Gough, or as the music world knows him, Badly Drawn Boy, seems to have a that velvet tinge of Lou Reed, but this guy actually sings and doesn’t talk through his songs. The flutes and violins get a bit flowery here and there, but as the songs open their bloom, there’s more substance there than what was expected.
The café transforms into a intimate lounge on “Another Devil Dies” with a solo piano serenade, reflecting on the delicate link that ties one human to another and how through the use of song one can fight back against evil. Complex in nature yes, but simple in the way Gough constructs his thoughts into a melody and chorus. He also throws in a little tongue and cheek with the bang of a gong at the end of “Year of the Rat.”
What is endearing is the long-gone era of the harpsichord, which I have to admit is one of my favorite musical instruments. There’s something haunting and timeless about it, and the instrumental “The Blossoms” pays homage to its legacy. Gough himself also pays tribute to his grandfather William H. Gough, Joe Strummer, and Elliott Smith.
Reflecting on those who are no longer with us sometimes enables us to be our own mentor, realizing how short life is and how the little things really don’t matter. On One Plus One Is One, Gough gives us a bigger picture to hear.