Cherry Red 2022
Moving outside of proverbial narrative to make a stand, English troubadour-cum-troublemaker delivers a searing comment on societal woes.
The album-a-year run that Trevor Midgley’s been for a decade now may seem like stretching it in terms of creativity, but the truth is, Beau doesn’t let up and, as the unprecedently pun-ridden title of this record should suggest, no amount of well-educated imagination can compete with the volume of material the world supplies the singer-songwriter with. There’s no need for delving into the past to illustrate the present, as was the Englishman’s wont, anymore; there’s enough tragicomic news fodder to keep the artist in the “carpe diem” mode, focusing on the moment – or the time which passed since his previous platter anyway. As a result of such an approach, “Al Killem’s Final Show” has turned out to be the veteran’s most caustic, pitiless offering – devoid of romanticism, yet serving poetic justice to every guilty party, “poetic” also describing the texts used here as lyrics.
Midgley goes for the listener’s belfry right off the bat, greeting them with the sarcastic “Here We Go Again!” to air his paradoxical blend of sense of belonging and nonconformity in, again, a uncharacteristically histrionic manner, where the strumming of his twelve strings is all but persistent, before the album’s title track’s folksy licks and gripping story propel this theater of the absurd to the brink of farce. Trevor takes it even further, when he, the subject matter expert, seems to be mocking his trade in “The Proper Folk Tradition” and his countrymen’s traits in “The Euphemism Song” whose linguistic acrobatics are truly funny, yet the inspired balladry of “Bells Beyond The Stars” has optimism ringing in Beau’s youthful voice as he states, “I see the sunny side and that I always will” – which, set against a plain talk, is larger than a simple motto.
However, while topical songs per se don’t stick here, period pieces-in-waiting do, the Covid-related and reality-based “Don Giuseppe Berardelli” – a future parable about the plague, a story more striking than one told in “Hildegard Of Bingo” – employing Renaissance-esque translucence to shine a fresh light on a notion of noble death, and “Deadly Nightshade” making a stand against untruth. And then arrives “I’m Sorry!” to flaunt its exclamation mark as a signal of the record’s coming full circle – or a full guarantee of sounding offensive to the anarchists and masochists that bow before cancel culture. Trevor Midgley doesn’t do so, which is why this attempt at ventriloquism won’t feel hypocritical, and here’s the reason why “Al Killem’s Final Show” will feel so relevant.