Andy White – How Things Are – album review NetRhythms

Like any self-respecting singer-songwriter, when White’s 15 year marriage ended, he made an album about it. Indeed, with the possible exception of (Who Said We’re Gotta Get Another) Lennon (and even that’s open to interpretation), every song here relates to finding himself unexpectedly single, “the greatest story of love ever told”, as he sings on Band of Gold, having gone cold. Thus you also get Separation Street where he’s “avoiding places we could meet”, the brief hope things might be ok when “we talked on the phone” in the jaunty You Got Me At Hello with its wailing harmonica and All It Does Is Rain, a number for “all the men who didn’t see it coming”.

Being White, his misery’s still wrapped up in catchy, pretty upbeat tunes like the chugging Shakespeare Take My Hand, Everyone Is Love (“with someone else today”) which sounds like a meeting between Lennon and the Korgis, the U2 bluesy rock of Driftin’, Jessica Says with its poppy descending chords and brisk chiming guitar rhythms and the acoustic strum of Closest Thing To Heaven (“I’m living life in a brand new hell”). Even the ballads, Separation Street and Band of Gold, are dreamy melodies.

Lyrically too, he’s inspired to produce a wonderful mix of the poetic and the mundane, with images that range from the ghost in the white Afghani coat to the simple fact of seeing her picture hanging on the wall when he walks into the hall. Wandering through memories of both happy times and the break-up itself, he doesn’t wallow, but it is interesting to note that he is very much the injured party and, while he may indeed have been blameless, none of the songs make any attempt at asking whether he might have contributed to matters at all. That said, while hung with sadness, the album, in which he’s accompanied solely by son Sebastian on drums and Domini Forster on strings, is welcomingly free of bitterness, White himself declaring it a celebration as well as valediction of a time that’s gone, the first chapter as well as the end of everything. It’ll be interesting to see how things are in the next installment.

Mike Davies, February 2014