Cherry Red 2020
Veteran singer-songwriter unsheathes sword to cut through contemporary miasma – again.
Did Trevor Midgley knew that crap would hit the fan or was it the artist’s usual state of being tuned into the times – and the timelessness of adversities? In any case, this record, released on the cusp of our current crisis, could be the disaster’s preamble, Beau’s lashing at different misfortunes with all the satire he’s able to muster while consciously discarding lyrical subtleties of previous year’s "Damascus Road" and his earlier oeuvre. Everything is laid out in plain view now on the title track and “Burnishing My Credentials” which bookend the album in a talking blues manner – in a troubadour way – but the characters the listener encounters between the opener and finale look rather multilayered. The more sophisticated they get, the more riveting the music becomes, and such unpredictability will render the songs’ flow much more interesting than the cursory spin should suggest.
Although most intriguing melodically are the flamenco-flavored puns of “Luis ‘El Chapo’ Chihuahua” or “Sex, Drugs & Ballroom Dancing” where villainy is vaudevillian, numbers that seem less diverse in stylistic terms are alluring as well. This is why there’s gravity in the folk frivolity of “Philosopher’s Retreat” where the minstrel is taking the mickey out of faux intellectuals – those who conform to their era, as “Bettermorphosis” and “Letters Of Life” have it, only to cater to social media mongers, the twitterati brigade, those who see justice in a totally different light from mere mortals. As a result, he rarely distributes sympathy here – reserving the warmth for “Edna & Jack” and a couple other heroes, the real deal, like people in “A Tale Of Apollo 11” – as opposed to the protagonist of “Hard, Hard Road (A Backbencher’s Lament)” which is oozing acidic sarcasm.
There are familiar maritime and military yarns, yet their romanticism is foreboding, and even “The Ship” and “Sergeant Warnock” trade it for tuneful irony and tangible tragedy – made lighter by Beau’s brilliant rhymes that target not just hypocrites but also the prophets of platitudes and commonplaces’ dwellers. Still, poetry can’t completely compete with music which Trevor keeps dry here, robbing fans of a fuller experience they got used to… and whetting their appetite for the next time.