Reviewed by Peter Dilley
The Welsh songsmith's talent and versatility as a singer and songwriter should never be underestimated. Mal's latest offering links partly, but not wholly, into his involvement in musical stage productions, notably Amazing Grace, which recounts the story of the Welsh Revival. The album's title cut was written almost as an afterthought for this musical - drawing on the character of the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Mal relates this to Rev Peter Price, a severe critic of the preacher Evan Roberts and the Revival. Closely connected is "Jealousy", written for the character of Mary, Evan's sister. By way of a contrast, the instrumental finale "The Main Event" sounds like it would have sat nicely in Jeff Wayne's 'The War Of The Worlds', but it will actually be part of Mal's 2007 production The Contender, based on the life of boxer Tommy Farr. Moving away from the musicals, there are songs reflecting the ups and downs of everyday life, including the angst-ridden "Yes I Love You" and "Breakdown", and the happier "Be My Baby Tonight". Standing out as the obvious single is "Cappuccino Girls", a song with a similar musical and narrative style to Martyn Joseph's "Working Mother", it examines the superficially successful, but inwardly desolate existence of so-called 'desperate housewives'. As a measure of the quality of Mal's work, I'd strongly recommend a look at the video, or an audio preview/download - all free at www.cappuccinogirls.com. Some other tracks can also be previewed on his website: www.malpope.com.
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