Most of the charm in Graham Coxon’s guitar work comes from his innate sense to make things sound good, while blatantly disregarding whatever the hell your guitar instructor taught you about scales, chords and keys. The prolific guitarist is revered by other musicians as being one of the most important figures in music, but for some reason, his solo efforts all seem to be riddled with hits and misses.
His latest offering, the wittily titled A+E is no exception. Starting off strong on a real infectious rhythm with ‘Advice’, which lyrically, reminds you of what a big kid Coxon really is, whining about how people are going to keep “giv[ing] you advice until the morning”. But it’s what we love about him anyway. And the album keeps that steady momentum through, albeit with drops here and there like the sombre, pointless track ‘Truth’ and the tiringly hard-to-commit-to ‘Knife in the Cast’.
The hits though, are probably some of his most adventurous undertakings to date. ‘Seven Naked Valleys’ is definitely a high point for A+E. With its cosmological cowboy feel to it’s main riff, it makes a great track for the next time you’re going for that sunset horse ride on the stormy rings of Saturn (yeeha!). Lead single ‘What’ll It Take’ is a vent for Coxon, expressing his frustration for not being a commercial success. Whether it’s a joke, it’s hard to tell, but it gets a little sad when he starts asking you repeatedly, “what’s wrong with me?” and all you can do is sit there and listen as his vocals start to drown in the noise. Interesting choice for a lead single though.
A+E is nowhere near being a bad album, but neither is it his best album as a solo artist. Sure, the way he layers his music is something to be in awe about. Sure, his catchy riffs make you kick yourself for not coming up with it first. But you can’t help feeling like it’s a little messy, and a little sloppily put together.
He was sorely missed when he left Blur back in 2002, and we wet our pants when they got back together in 2009. He was the quirk that made up the originality of Blur, and everyone’s always expected him to soar as a solo musician. But it’s become clear that even though he’s a talented musician, Coxon only achieves his full potential when writing with BFF, Damon Albarn. Which makes it extra sad, with the recent announcement by Albarn that Blur will be breaking up again after their concert in London this summer.
LISTEN TO: ‘Advice’ ‘What’ll It Take’ ‘City Hall’ ‘Seven Naked Valleys’ ‘Running for Your Life’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Blur, Arctic Monkeys
2. CITY HALL
3. WHAT’LL IT TAKE
5. THE TRUTH
6. SEVEN NAKED VALLEYS
7. RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE
8. BAH SINGER
9. KNIFE IN THE CAST
10. OHH, YEH, YEH
Find out more on Graham Coxon’s latest activities at grahamcoxon.co.uk.