Oh Pioneer Adventures in Gramaphone***
Although dreadlocked dude Duke Special hasn’t released what might be described as a “straightforward” album since 2008, his recent forays into the world of musical theatre and composition have clearly coloured his methods. The Belfast man’s 10th release blends his music hall foundations with songs that are theatrical and quietly grandiose.
The cabaret-pop twinkle of opening track Stargazers of the World Unite heralds a set of songs that are quite charming, while the soft woodwind lullaby of Snakes in the Grass is offset by its chorus’s jazzy blasts of Queen- like harmonies. Elsewhere, Special’s pendulum swings between “dandy” and “regal” on the excellent How I Learned to Love the Sun. There may be no huge surprises here, but there’s a generous helping of well- written songs with real heart behind them. dukespecial.com
Download tracks:Stargazers of the World Unite, Snakes in the Grass