Andy White – How Things Are – album review Fatea Magazine

Andy White’s never been short of a song or two. He has the poet’s knack of reflecting his own life through the prism of universal experience, so famously, when he sang Street Scenes from My Heart, he was singing about all of us. Particularly (but far from exclusively) us blokes. Whether looking for James Joyce’s Grave, admiring Italian Girls On Mopeds, or ruminating on Religious Persuasion, Jesus in a Cadillac or Berlin 6am, he converts insights to his own life and times into common truths, dreams and anxieties. It’s music of the people, folk music.

And so it is with the emotional turmoil that so obviously consumed him in the wake of the breakdown of his 15-year marriage. When the Closest Thing To Heaven tells him she wants to start her life again, without him, it feels as if it nearly broke him. There’s a great deal of pain in these songs, but by the time it has made it into a song the hurt has been assimilated, learned from and at least partially understood.

Band of Gold asks as many questions as it answers, You Got Me At Hello remembers the high times, Jessica Says strives to escape the wounded heart, while Separation Street simultaneously manages to pay tribute to Van Morrison and accept the new circumstances. And in the lyrics of Lennon he rues the passing of the greats and is a bit mean about those that have survived. Strikingly, the one thing Andy White doesn’t appear to be here is angry. When he sings “I don’t make you happy – that’s the end of the story” in Picture Of You he doesn’t sound bitter, or even sad, it’s the sound of acceptance.

Andy White is 51 years old and has been doing this for more than a quarter of a century. He probably didn’t expect to be writing a break up album at this stage of his career, but the fact that a poet of his stature has done so means there’s a record-shaped oasis of kindness and understanding should it be of assistance.

But more than that, How Things Are is packed with heroic major chords and ear-seducing melodies that lift up the soul, make you want to stretch out your arms and joyfully embrace whatever life and fate conspire to chuck at you. Whatever happens, it’ll be OK – and there just aren’t enough records that do that.

Nick Churchill, February 2014