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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

6. Luke White : Outside In

We’re counting down to Christmas Eve with the albums of the year. Come back tomorrow to see what’s next ...

Used to be you couldn’t find enough half-decent singer-songwriters to fill up the Brit Awards shortlist.

Now they’re a ten-a-penny and the problem is more sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

For every moment of rare wonder, there are hours of wellmeaning but weary navel-gazing.

Tom Baxter, Duke Special, Scott Matthews and David Ford have all been essential. Ed Sheeran has grabbed the genre by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into the charts.

Now step forward Luke White, who combines singer-songwriter sensibilities with widescreen pop, and somehow makes the mainstream deeper.

Musically, think Turin Brakes meets ABC. And, indeed, the young British singer’s voice recalls that of Brakes’ Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, which, of course, is no bad thing.

And then, there’s the fact that each and every track – bar a couple of brief instrumental links – boasts a barbed hook that lodges in the back of your consciousness and refuses to let go.

Typical is Black Market Red Roses, a song about the lengths to which lovers will go, which opens like U2 with a gently insistent beat, building to a credible indie pop romance.

Made Of Love, chosen as the debut single – last year’s EP The Performing Man was just a taster – and already winning fans on youtube, is a song Chris Martin would kill for.

Opening with 80s retro synth and reverb guitar, it’s lush pop with a seductive chorus and the chance for White to dust off his guitar.

Waiting To Say Goodbye takes it back to piano-vocal basics, as does Don’t Be Worried (Light Will Find You), the latter currently being championed by Coldplay’s hypnofeed. Stay Young boasts gorgeous guitar licks, and Stupid Kind Of Love is the sort of thing that Crowded House’s Neil Finn used to do so capably.

The album title comes from the lyric of Maybe She Is Magic, a song that’s more mainstream than most, and may well put you in mind of Jocasta cult classic Inside Out.

If there are weaknesses, they show up in Goodbye Skin, which tends toward blandness before saving itself at the close.

Best of the bunch is She’s A Dancer which nods to Turin Brakes circa Ether Song, but may just be better even than that...

All white, indeed.

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