A Painter’s Life, the latest solo LP from former Jack And Jacques member Anthony Reynolds, is an album as rich and romantic as its title suggests. This is a glorious set of indie show-tunes that blends the stately swagger of Richard Hawley with avant-garde flourishes and some nice chamber-pop orchestration. The resulting record will end up plugging the You Are The Quarry-shaped hole in your life now that Morrissey has spoiled it for the rest of us. A Painter’s Life features contributions from Japan’s Robert Dean, Dub War’s Richard Glover and 60ft Dolls’ Carl Bevan to name but three.
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What have we here then? Why, it’s 'A Painter’s Life', by Anthony Reynolds. Anthony would appear to be a singer-songwriter, and judging by the first two tracks on this LP Reynolds has an ear for soaring, cathartic melody; as well as a fine sense for the dramatic and some insightful self-awareness.
We are immediately greeted by one particular side of Reynolds’ personality; his unabashed fondness for bombast, dark humour and self-aggrandizing tendencies. Swelling strings build and build under Reynolds’ voice as it soars and piles the melodrama sky-high. Sample lyric: “The nurse held me up -- ‘Congratulations, mum… He is sexy, but alas… not healthy..’ ...It was my second great victory… beating all those other sperm to the egg was my first!” Thus the little prince was introduced to the world, and vice versa. Quite the intro.
Calling to mind Nick Cave, Alex Turner *and* Neil Hannon -- often simultaneously -- with more than a sprinkling of Richard Hawley to boot. Those chamber strings thankfully don’t appear too often, so his lovely voice isn’t swamped, a masterpiece of sound engineering, perhaps. Whatever, there’s some lovely guitar-work (shout to Japan’s Robert Dean) on the title track, wherein Reynolds opines and declares his desire to be a celebrated painter as he likes to smoke and "paint masterpieces" / work at night -- wait, he is a musician right?
‘Yves Saint Laurent’ vraiment sounds like a lost Japan track. As well as channeling David Sylvian for one whole song, there’s the ghost of an 80s drum machine and fretless bass making for a very familiar and evocative feel. The bass, drums and samples (complete with siren!) on the next track make me check we’re still on the same record; we are -- and here’s Reynold’s whispered spoken voice. On the track ‘Basquiat in Exile’, it’s very clear that this is a man who fancies himself as a poet, artist and songwriter.
I believe the word is *swagger* ... Which is no bad thing, as this is a good record, and a refreshing one.
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