David Byrne - Grown Backwards
Think you know David Byrne? Then think again. The former frontman of Talking Heads is also a photographer, film director and author as well as a solo artist in his own right. If you were lucky enough to see the excellent film "Young Adam" you'd have heard David Byrne's brooding music beautifully matching the dark mood of the films visual impact. Never one to rest on his laurels David Byrne has released an ambitious and eclectic album which is so rich in diversity and musical styles that it quite frankly defies categorization. "Grown Backwards" is produced by Byrne (is their no end to this guys talents) and Patrick Dillet.
With such a creative outlook you can always expect the unexpected with David Byrne and this is no exception. "Au Fond Du Temple Saint" is the first of two opera aria's, the second being "Un Di Felice". The first is from Bizat's The Pearl Fishers and David Duets with Rufus Wainwright. Backed by a full orchestra (The Tosca Strings) this is an emotional choice, exquisite, moving and beautifully realized. Russell Watson, don't get too complacent, you've got stuff competition from these two guys. "Tiny Apocalypse" is quite jazzy with the occasional orchestral flourish. Byrne's voice has matured wonderfully like a fine wine. His range and scope is a revelation. This is an expansive epic, unpredictable and a joy to listen to with some seriously unusual instrumentation and acerbic lyrics. David croons seductively on the groove laden "Why" which again has elements of jazz. You genuinely feel sympathy when he sings "I feel and empty space where love should be". Like the great man himself this is confident, classy and cool. Semi-acoustic with a countryish feel "Astronaut" is a very pleasant and would fit snugly into a contemporary Western. Byrne's lyrics are charmingly eccentric. Keep an ear cocked for the unforgettable observation "I surf the net and watch TV, there's peace in the middle east".
A listening experience like no other, "Grown Backwards" illustrates just what a creative genius David Byrne is and I don't use the word genius lightly. His style is undeniably his own and his influences range from opera, country, jazz and folk. There's no doubting the man's ambition and the care and attention he's brought to such a rewarding album.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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