Released 9th April 2012 on Helium Records
Reviewed by Steve Boniface
Clocking in at just under 35 minutes the self titled debut album from Crybaby (a.k.a. Bristol singer-songwriter Danny Coughlan) is relatively short lived. While it lasts though, it is a gently evocative and affecting homage to crooners of old – a striking tribute to a genre and style that’s all but lost.
The music conjures images of Teddy Boys and classic 50’s America, simple instrumentation combining to create songs that could have been written for anyone from Roy Orbison to Buddy Holly. The romantic streak in the lyrics is a mile wide, concerned mostly with the harder side of love.
The sentiment is almost too neatly wrapped up within the space of the first track, I Cherish The Heartbreak More Than The Love That I Lost. Smooth, reverb laden vocals tell the story of a doomed relationship, and how the memory of that has become more important that the relationship itself. The protagonist is more than aware that the coupling was never going to work (‘a happy ever after/well baby that just wasn’t us’) but is more than happy to hold on to feelings of loss that followed, and it is that mood that carries the rest of the album forward.
The feeling of heartbreak is prevalent throughout, songs such as We’re Supposed To Be In Love, This Time It’s Over and A Misery of Love carrying the theme through. It’s arguable that it’s all too much, and that by the end the listener will tire of the downbeat mood. There are, however, three factors which prevent this.
To start with, as mentioned before, the album lasts just over half an hour – the relatively short running time means that the music stops just in time, before the mood becomes overbearing.
Secondly, there is a standout song that shifts the focus for just long enough to refresh the ear. Veils is a beautiful and haunting song that tells of the travails of a soldier in the Middle East. Though the soundscape remains similar to the rest of the album, the shift in subject matter to the man ‘swept out by the Queen and state’ to fight in a distant desert is a welcome one. ‘Lose the boy to make the man/see the world in jagged lands’ sings Crybaby, in a poignant tribute to the troops that for a moment steps away from the over-arching sense of lost love.
Finally, the production of the LP is excellent. It’s underplayed and simple, allowing the vocal plenty of space to breathe amongst the instrumentation. This is very important for songs that are focussed on the words they use, and a trick Crybaby pulls off well.