Badly Drawn Boy - It's What I'm Thinking Part 1: Photographing Snowflakes

It's What I'm Thinking Part 1: Photographing Snowflakes from Manchester musician Damon Gough, performing under the moniker of Badly Drawn Boy, is a quietly beautiful, introspective work. Sad, moody and at times a bit self-indulgent, it is a more cohesive, homogeneous work than 2006's Born In The UK. The album feels like a cold winter's day. The songs are lush but low key, with Gough's soft vocals gliding softly over the music.

'In Safe Hands' comes in slowly, shyly, with Gough's voice sounding ghostly and otherworldly: "I need you now / To help me somehow." In other songs, like the six minute 'It's What I'm Thinking' ("I'm a failure at heart") and 'I Saw You Walk Away', Gough seems to lay his insecurities out for all to see. He has been hurt and he's not afraid to point the finger and lay the blame, even if it's at himself: "If I don't crucify myself, nobody will." The imagery of snow and snowflakes is omnipresent throughout, but it is far from a festive feel. Snowballs are potential missiles and snowflakes represents hopes and dreams that dissolve in your fingers as soon as you touch them. Take 'Too Many Miracles', the richly orchestrated music belying the rather pessimistic lyrics: "The age of romance is dead and gone / There may be a chance I'm wrong." In the pensive "What Tomorrow Brings" Gough struggles under the burden of fear and uncertainty; "I'm tired of thinking of this morning / May as well dream of what tomorrow brings." Yet as the music slowly builds, so does Gough's fragile optimism: "One day we'll look at this and laugh about it / 'til then just realize the future is all in your hands."

It's What I'm Thinking ... sees Gough slowly coming back to form. The songs are rich and textured and Gough's gorgeous vocals and consummate writing skills add warmth and colour that help dispel the chill. The album feels like the return of an old friend who's been gone a while. It's good to have him back.



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