ALBUM REVIEW: The Rest Of Your Life

Captain Moonlight
The Rest Of Your Life


Label: Unsigned

Few phrases fill a music buff with such dread as ‘politically motivated singer-songwriter’. Those of us who attended university will have come across veritable droves of such figures, some professional, many more the exact opposite, and what most of them consider music amounts to little more than feeding their own egos, as they desperate try to emulate their heroes by endlessly ripping them off.

Thankfully, the third album by Captain Moonlight – Chris Browne to his friends – avoids these awful traps for most of its running time, serving instead as a showcase for promising talent matched by very capable song-writing. While not an unqualified success, it bodes well for a more refined and ambitious work in the near future.

The Rest Of Your Life is described in its press notes as Captain Moonlight’s “most focussed record yet.” Certainly it’s the most consistent in sound, to the point at which it can feel very uniform. The first time around there isn’t a huge amount to pull you in beyond Browne’s surprisingly strong voice. When he isn’t carelessly bellowing out his lines on ‘A Stone’s Throw Away’, his baritone is reminiscent of David Sylvian around the time of Secrets Of The Beehive. Both singers have a dolorous quality in both their lyrics and delivery, counterbalanced by an emotional yearning for something better.

The album takes a couple of listens for its themes and lyrics to leach through, which in itself is no bad thing. Non-Warwick alumni may remain put off by raucous closer ‘The Boar Ain’t Easy’, which chronicles the trial and tribulations of editing the student newspaper to which this reviewer once contributed. It’s a little too in-jokey for its own good, but there’s plenty of good stuff elsewhere for us to forgive that moment of indulgence.

Political songwriters, particularly those who list Bob Dylan as an influence, are often so upfront in their lyrics that they alienate anyone who isn’t a sabre-rattling Trotskyite. But though Browne is clearly political, to the point of being an angry young man, he is both subtle and self-deprecating enough to avoid preaching to the converted. The second verse of ‘None Of My Plans’ is proof enough:

Self-pity gets you so far until it stops to drink

Drinks until its stomach bursts and leaves you standing on the brink

So obstinate, predictable… don’t you think?

Browne has stated his admiration for the likes of John Martyn and Nick Drake, and the irony of both their fates and the predicament of his ilk have not been lost on him.

Sticking with Nick Drake for the moment, the album is at its most interesting and adventurous when it attempts to add various other instruments into the mix. In the case of Drake, the orchestral Bryter Layter is rich and rewarding where Pink Moon is mainly twee, and with The Rest Of Your Life it is much the same story. Not all of the experiments work – the guitar on ‘Fin De Siecle’ feels a bit bolt-on – but they all add much-needed variety. The album could have done with more ambitious percussion, rather than simply relying on knocking the side of an acoustic guitar whenever the feeling takes you.

The Rest Of Your Life is a decent if incidental entry in the Captain Moonlight discography, which amply demonstrates Browne’s talents as a songwriter. Should success come his way – and he deserves it – this will come to be regarded as a protean work, an album containing hints of genius in varying quantities which should nonetheless be appreciated. Despite moments of in-jokey tedium, there is enough compelling work on here to make Captain Moonlight one to watch in years to come.


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