Title: Off The Radar
Catalogue Number: Much Obliged Records
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008
Glasgow's Ally Kerr does a nice line in pop songs and "Off the Radar" provides us with the opportunity to enjoy 12 more of his little pop masterpieces.
Opening the album is "Could Have Been a Contender" - all polished pop perfection that brings back memories of the jaunty hits of the Housemartins and their catalogue of intelligent and catchy songs. "I Think I'm Bleeding" has an underlying country flavour to it. Whilst once again presented as a happy little song, there is more than a touch of bitterness in his words. Funnily enough, the rather twee "The Toothbrush Song" would also make a quality country song due to its dry lyrics even if a cowboy would feel the need to accompany such emotions with bourbon rather than sparkling mineral water.
The pace picks up with the title track "Off the Radar" that truly highlights Mr Kerr's pop sensibilities and offsets his laidback vocal delivery with some spirited guitar. Loves lost and won (mostly lost though…) and a sense of reflection on his younger years seem a common theme to the songs in this album and, indeed, regret is once more evident in "Is It Too Late to Work for NASA" even if it is disguised here with wry humour. If Bluesbunny closes his eyes, on "Mystery Star" Ally Kerr seems to transform himself into Edinburgh master popsters Dropkick and there are certainly worse things to be than that. If Bluesbunny had to pick a favourite track, it would probably be "Amorino" evoking, as it does, the melancholic pleasures of heartbreak.
The thing that impresses most about this album is the songs themselves. Well crafted and melodic with sharp and observant lyrics, they are however presented as a whole lot fluffier than they actually are. It must be Ally Kerr's choice to do so but it does seem that he is deliberately avoiding giving any kind of offense. Maybe he never gets angry himself - although his words suggest otherwise -but Bluesbunny feels that he is doing his own songs a disservice here by sprinkling an inch of icing sugar on everything. It is not necessary for everything in life to have a cherry on top for it to be appetising.
Overall, this is a happy, upbeat album that is just a bit too polite and well mannered to try and force itself upon your affections. The production and arrangements are smoother than your average Starbuck's decaf latte but it is perhaps fair comment to say that the omnipresent sugar coating will suit his fans. However, and maybe this is a reviewer thing, a bit of fire and even some unpredictability would have been welcome. Then again, the Bluesbunny was always a quadruple espresso kind of guy.
April 13, 2008
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