Feted by none other than Paul McCartney and sounding like a young Rod Stewart after a good gargle, Jon Allen follows up his attention-grabbing Land Rover advert soundtrack with an accomplished own-label debut album.
A one-time student of the Macca-backed Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, Allen’s folk/pop ballad Going Home saturated commercial breaks last year but is, curiously enough, the weakest song on Dead Man’s Suit – a cliché-ridden sub-James Blunt affair about endlessly winding roads and ever-changing views always leading back to the object of affection. Dreary, in a word.
Happily, the rest is a clear cut above and the opening title track, with its ghostly Hammond accompaniment coming crisply to life, is a marker of good things to come. Allen’s crooned emery-board voice makes much of the Handbags and Gladrags-like In Your Light while Down by the River unapologetically draws its inspiration from late-period Faces.
The songs are precisely crafted but Allen’s delivery always seems to call to mind another voice. So the beautifully wistful Sleeping Soul is Wild Wood-era Paul Weller, Take Me to Heart summons up James Taylor in self-reflective mood, Young Man’s Blues smacks of Rod Argent, Bad Penny sounds like a David Gray off-cut and Friends concludes things with a gentle nod towards Joe Cocker.
And yet Dead Man’s Suit remains recognisably Allen’s and the sheer simplicity with which it is delivered – erring always on the pleasingly understated – proves a winningly intimate, if occasionally somewhat fey, formula.
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