Badly Drawn Boy

All of Damon Gough's albums lack focus, indulging his fondness for his kaleidoscopic record collection until they become high-concept mix tapes, connected by singer but not sound. They are all, also, at least two or three songs too long. And guess what? Those two so-called flaws are exactly what makes them great. The songs may often sound like strangers to one another, grouped together almost awkwardly. But they're not. Not really. One Plus One Is One is, in fact, one extended monologue, a rambling essay about the imperfect (but perfect, in a way) arithmetic of relationships that the title alludes to and the album exemplifies. He comes back to the idea often, that when two people come together only one is left. He backs his theory with sweeping orchestral scores (the title track), a children's chorus ("Year of the Rat"), his own careful finger-picking ("Easy Love") and what sounds like Jethro Tull ("Summertime in Wintertime"), all along turning personal epiphanies into universal truths. Such as, "As the past meets the future/It gets clearer that it all boils down to love." It's a sweet premise, and though it's not a new one, Gough does his best to make it feel that way, with an album he neatly sums up in the first song: "Why can't you see that one plus one is one? Much greater than the sum of its parts." He's not reviewing his own album, obviously, but you can't say it much better than that.


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