Lucky Jim - Our Troubles End Tonight (re-release)
Without wishing to sound smug, there are times one is glad they watch so little television. Arguably the greatest benefit (for a music fan, anyway) is not having songs ruined by association with adverts; there are tunes it can still be possible to listen to without images of baked beans or "feminine hygiene products" popping into your head.
The press release for Our Troubles End Tonight informs that Lucky Jim's current single You're Lovely To Me is "being used by Kingsmill as the soundbed for their new TV ad as well as the Kingsmill sponsored Lorraine Kelly Today show". Now I can't claim to know what Lucky Jim (real name, Gordon Grahame) had in mind when he wrote this track, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't finely sliced bread. Or Lorraine Kelly. I feel somewhat better enabled to appreciate the song without having witnessed it being used in these contexts; and, indeed, listening with an untainted mind, it has just enough rough Dylan-esque charm to take it out of the category "saccharine". (I should admit that on first hearing, I had to check to be sure it wasn't a Dylan cover.)
It's actually a good representation of the album overall: folksy, timeless, romantic. Grahame's always gravely voice makes sure nothing here could be mistaken for James Blunt, although he could occasionally be mistaken for (a decent) Richard Ashcroft. Crucially, these songs sound heartfelt and weary, like they've been lived in; quite the contrast to the majority of dreary singer-songwriter material you'll hear. When he sings "my soul is on fire", it's with authentic yearning. You can imagine him restless and kept awake at night.
Production isn't over-fussy, with embellishments over and above an acoustic guitar generally subtle, and all the more effective for it. The Honeymooners and Westwards We're Headed have French and Spanish hints respectively, and there are neat hippy-esque keyboard parts elsewhere.
As with much material of this type, Our Troubles End Tonight sometimes drags, but Lucky Jim is a cut above most of his ilk. Heck, if it gives him any chance whatsoever against the James Blunts of this world, perhaps we can forgive him Kingsmill and Lorraine Kelly.
N.B. This album was first released in 2004 and is being reissued with three extra songs. Sadly, the excellent Sun'll Rise isn't one of them; it can be found on, among other sources I'm sure, Chris Coco and Rob Da Bank's classic Blue Balearic compilation.