Craig Robertson towers over the ukulele scene. His Ukulele Noir and the Ukulele Caravan events have given a platform to some of the most exciting ukulele acts around including Hailey Wojcik, Michael Wagner and Megg Farrell. But, of course, there’s his own music and he has just released his latest CD DeChirico Street which he was kind enough to send me.
If you’ve been following Craig’s music, and you really should have been, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect: darkly humorous songs of love, drunkenness and death delivered with jazz chord progressions and a lived-in voice. Has a real knack for writing evocative and atmospheric songs and character focussed songs like Mamie Thurman and The Ballad of Blanche Barrow. He makes it all sound so easy and you start to wonder why all songs aren’t this good (until you try to write one and find out it’s impossible).
The standout tracks on the CD:
The Leopard: An instantly memorable tune about his penis/libido*.
Goodbye Paul Tibbets: If you’re going to write songs about death and murder, then Paul Tibbets is a very interesting candidate for a song. By taking it down to the personal level, it avoids the traps that most protest songs fall into. There are some excellent lines in this song that I don’t want to spoil by writing them down.
The Gate: A song inspired by Giorgio de Chirico’s Mystery and Melancholy of a Street (recreated on the back of a ukulele by Moogly Moo for the cover). The painting also inspired Robyn Hitchcock’s DeChirico Street and Craig finds equally dark and strange goings on with murder and a satanic getaway set to a Motown bass riff and a country-tinged chorus.
*Or it could just be a simple song of animal husbandry and I’ve just revealed far too much about my own penis/libido.