We reviewed Dunlop’s second album House of Jacks and remember thinking he was a British Neil Young, with his intelligent songs and mix of the folk and the rock; the lack of guitar solos possibly suggests he’s more of British Jackson Browne but still: he’s good and several cuts above many “folk” artists out there.
House of Jacks started off folky and got more complex as it played and we think that could be true of this, which opens with Castello, mostly just Dunlop and acoustic guitar. Lyrically it sets the scene with a tale of a woman he met while staying at a 14th century Italian castle during a tour. This album was recorded in Manchester and the woman lives there, too, giving Dunlop chance to reference the wet and windy city, “She did a year in Manchester/And it rained every day … They tried to get her onto Joy Division/She said she liked the feel/But it lacked precision” – she prefers fellow Mancs James.
Castello is a straightforward pop tune but She Won’t Cry For Me is more complex, both in structure and lyrically, about how difficult a failing relationship can be; she cries but only when he’s not around, he wants to know what parts of her he could never entertain.
First World Problems is political, the narrator being a third world farmer forced to grow crops and ruin his land so that we first worlders can enjoy our freedom and not “ask where it comes from” or “care how it’s done”.
It’s not all serious: 356 is about a man who can only afford a pushbike admiring a classic Porsche 356, while Up On Cragside is about the life of Lord (William George) Armstrong, who built the eponymous country house in Northumberland, the first house in the world to be lit using hydro-electric power.
It’s quality music; fans of folk and Americana alike should give it a listen. It’s all good; we like closing track Phoenix.