John Cunningham | 1998 - 2002

Ashmont Records (2010)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  July 20, 2010
3.5 3.5 Stars


This reissue compiles two out-of-print albums from British songwriter John Cunningham — 1998's Homeless House and 2002's Happy-Go-Unlucky.

Although he failed to establish an audience the first time around with these records, Cunningham has built a cult following in recent years in the sort of musical circles that revere both the formal beauty of the Beatles and the twilight melancholy of Canterbury-scene/British-folk greats Robert Wyatt and Nick Drake. Compared with most musicians nowadays who are caught up in the album-tour-rinse cycle, Cunningham's ethos is refreshingly civilian. A music teacher who lives in very rural Northern Britain, he's as reflective in his nature as he is particular about every detail of his songs.

Homeless House is the starker of the two albums here, an enigmatic collection of piano-and-guitar-based songs that flow and ripple like a darkly personal short story. Happy-Go-Unlucky, by contrast, is a tour-de-force of production. Here Cunningham really lets loose in the studio, with majestic orchestrations, surprising changes, and cunning melodies. Philosophical but never ponderous, reflecting both sides of an unusual and rare coin, these albums are extraordinary cases of what can still be done in the folk/pop medium.

Related: Robert Wyatt | Box Set, Slow emotion, Is 2010 the Year of the Girl?, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Robert Wyatt,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE UNIFIED MELODY OF SLOWDIM  |  March 20, 2013
    Slowdim drink wine with pizza. It's true. I was there.
  •   THE MARY ONETTES | HIT THE WAVES  |  March 13, 2013
    Hit the Waves is so heartfelt as a pastiche of '80s alternative music that it almost muscles its way into being brilliant.
  •   THE MODERN RETRO OF JESSE DEE  |  March 05, 2013
    On his new record On My Mind/In My Heart , the question is not if Jesse Dee can step up to the challenge of making authentic soul and R&B music in 2013, but rather how he goes about it.
  •   TAME IMPALA’S NEW SURROUND SOUND  |  March 08, 2013
    Whether it's Bradford Cox with Deerhunter, or Dan Snaith with Caribou, or Kevin Parker with Tame Impala, there must be something with this trend in sonic auteurs with cervine band names.
    "It seems like a challenge to make something that you have to pay a lot of attention to," says Josh Dibbs.

 See all articles by: JONATHAN DONALDSON