Reviewed by Phil Thomson
Scottish singer/songwriter Andrew Howie (aka Calamateur) has been around on the scene a while now and last year released an album which contained an incredible cover of Steve Taylor's "Jesus Is for Losers"). But nothing quite prepared for this set of self-penned songs. A mildly mesmeric style, post teenage angst preoccupations and oblique allusions to faith and spirituality (don't mention the word 'Jesus') - it is all here in gloriously scribbled-out music. Calamateur, 'fesses up big time, wearing all the seriously soporific minutia of his life on his sleeve and sounding, for most of the tracks, as if he's recorded them just before falling asleep. If you want sensitive pen-portraits of the self-absorbed, arranged and played with a spectacular lightness of touch, if you want to be delighted and surprised by perfectly paired down songs, if you want to be reminded of just how difficult it can be getting through the day without regret, it's all here. The titles are a give-away - "Change The World, I Would", "A Bad Friend", "A Crumbling Empire", "Retreat" - making Calamateur the perfect antidote to victorious living. In this search for truth and honesty, Andrew is aided and abetted by the fine studio work of Lewis Gordon (bass), Mark Hilditch (piano), Iain Hutchinson (electric guitar and keyboards) with Phil Moir on drums. Well done guys, for feeding the neurosis. I'll bet Calamateur is wry and funny live and could genuinely reduce you to tears (either way). Perversely, with 'Each Dirty Letter' we are magnificently entertained and are made to feel the world isn't so bad after all. Excellent.
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