The Man Upstairs
Robyn Hitchcock/Yep Rock/Southbound
Robyn Hitchcock keeps making the album of his career. Knocking it out of the park almost every single time. And that’s because, obviously, he’s only competing with himself. Here he’s in solo-acoustic mode, a few tinkling piano passages here and there to support (To Turn You On) and in some cases – more than a few – the finest songs he’s written, or up there (San Francisco Patrol). Also, in keeping with most of his albums across the last decade he continues to find his voice through cover versions – on this album there’s his version of The Doors’ Crystal Ship, actually saved from Jim Morrison’s dramatic/theatrical delivery.
The Man Upstairs only isn’t the album of Hitchcock’s career because last year’s album was also so good. And you have to figure that next year’s will follow suit. But what is remarkable is the lack of repetition; at no point do you feel the former Soft Boy going soft, not tracing around the same old ground. A solo album this year, a band one next time perhaps? Live albums – electric, acoustic, covers, originals – or bits and pieces of all and everything all the time; in that sense his closest comparison-player is Richard Thompson.
It’s wonderful to hear the energy, spirit, vitality in his playing and voice and songs.
This album’s closer, Recalling The Truth, is the sort of song any writer would be happy to have one of in their career. In Hitchcock’s case it’s one more. Just as this album is one more good one – drink it up. Until the next…