Release Date: Jul 21, 2017
Record label: Virgin EMI
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
Returning for a third dip into the well of smart pop, former Beautiful South members Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott offer Crooked Calypso, a robust marriage of plucky wit, confidence, and heart. Since rekindling their musical partnership in 2014, the two singers have turned out a distinctive brand of musical merrymaking that has resonated with U.K. audiences.
D uring his Housemartins days, Paul Heaton masterfully squeezed his observations about British society's ironies and inequalities into infectious four-minute pop songs. On Crooked Calypso, his third album with his Beautiful South bandmate Jacqui Abbott, it's a mode he returns to with gusto, his droll lyricism drilling into subject matter from obesity on The Fat Man to racial politics (The Lord Is a White Con) and the cavernous divide between rich and poor (People Like Us), over a backing of the kind of jaunty pop that can take in folk, disco and blues without ever breaking its buoyant stride. It's not all social justice worrying, however.
While The Housemartins were essentially The Smiths for people who carry well-thumbed copies of The Communist Manifesto in their back pocket instead of a bouquet of flowers, The Beautiful South sounded a lot more mature than happy-go-lucky, but were still, as much of Heaton's work is, humorous and smart without ever being pretentious enough to aim completely above his audience's heads. Furthermore, Crooked Calypso cements Heaton as the smartest person in any given room who's certainly smart enough to not tell you that himself. Rather than making "Happy Hour" again and again, and again, Heaton's always been one to continuously move forwards rather than feel the pain of standing still or, even worse, looking back.