Well-Drawn Epics Pulled from the Hat; Damon Gough's Quirky Riposte to the Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL CONNOLLY

POP

Badly Drawn Boy

Born In The UK (EMI)

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PERHAPS it's his unalluring way with a beanie hat and beard or his reputation for ramshackle live shows but Damon Gough has long had a somewhat undeserved reputation for being a lo-fi indie loser.

However, anyone who heard his soundtrack to About A Boy - especially the wondrous Silent Sigh - will know that this isn't true.

Given Gough's much-trumpeted love of Bruce Springsteen, it's no real surprise that his tea cosy-hatted alterego, Badly Drawn Boy, would eventually record an Anglo riposte to The Boss's Born In The USA.

That said, there's little state-ofthenation analysis here. Instead, the hirsute Mancunian has settled for making the best album of his career. And it's one which should, but probably will not, break him through as a housewives' favourite.

There's nothing on Born In The UK that will scare the horses and there's plenty here that anyone who loves James Blunt, classic Elton John or even Burt Bacharach will warm to immediately.

Gough has shed any kind of indie association - he's even releasing this album on EMI. It's clear he's aiming for the mainstream. In truth, however, there's nothing as bludgeoningly obvious as Blunt's You're Beautiful or even David Gray's Babylon. Gough's muse is more delicate, more subtly coloured - he's obviously too bashful to write anything as crudely manipulative as You're Beautiful. …