BEAU – The Last Confessions Of A Saboteur

Cherry Red 2024

The Last Confessions Of A Saboteur

Applying the “divert and entertain” method to replace the “divide and conquer” approach, English singer-songwriter is keeping his audience’s focus fresh.

It seems to be so easy to accuse Beau’s oeuvre of certain performative sameness or dismiss the veteran’s songs as a simple vehicle for his poetry – because, of course, it is, first and foremost – but that would mean missing the point of Trevor Midgley’s restless efforts to see every year pass by with a new album to accompany the period’s events. However, were it mere reports on actual affairs arriving in the form of musical pieces, assessing the Leeds troubadour’s catalogue outside of temporal constraints will feel difficult, yet, fortunately, there’s always an eternity-baiting twist in his melodic missives to lure the listeners in and reel them into thinking. And what can serve as a thought-provoking process better than a slight cognitive displacement?

Here’s why the record is launched into sonic waters with “Shipwreck Island” which rings like a sea shanty exported to a soiree, Beau’s celesta-like 12-string guitar and high voice lulling the ton before the number’s stanzas bring home the bitter truth of its title sharing letters with “isolationism” that its lyrics maroon for all to marvel at. A pity he didn’t stack vocals to up the irony of “The Barbershop Quartet” but studio trickery has never been Midgley’s way of creating tuneful pictures – in his own words, “listening to the last confessions of a saboteur / it’s meaningless, it’s worthless even working up a sweat” – so don’t expect “Never Trust A Cat” to differentiate between canine and feline delivery either.

And if it comes across like memes, Trevor will send a few more schemes, packed into “Publish And Be Damned” – a ballad for a sacrificial lamb in the shape of facts the readership are loath to accept when offered a sensation by free press, the perspective also laid out under the pop sheen of “The Watchmaker’s Arms” – and “The Sound Of The Poulterer’s Man” that’s wrapped in a folk-informed waltz around social shams, while “The Minnow” graciously swims between puns of social media. And if it’s a bit histrionic, especially in the faux-jovial “A Cautionary Tale” which attacks no-platforming, “Chavasse” presents, via introducing the unjustly forgotten titular hero, a fresh history lesson the singer-songwriter is a specialist in.

But then “Song Of Accountability” gets rid of masks and metaphors to expose Beau’s barely restrained anger at the state of the world, the emotional nerve which is this album’s tightrope rendering it a thrill through and through. And that’s the thrill that’s not to be gone soon.


April 20, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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