Album Review: Graham Coxon – The Spinning Top

by Marie Carney on April 25, 2009

Once again Graham shows us his many talents, using his own art for the cover.

Once again Graham shows us his many talents, using his own art for the cover.

Graham Coxon’s new solo album The Spinning Top is due to be released on May 11th, a month before his former band Blur reunites for a series of reunion tours.  I must admit that I have been in fangirl love with Graham Coxon since I was 16 years old, and The Spinning Top makes this fangirl swoon.  Musically, we’re back to a simpler Graham, focusing on him and an acoustic guitar, unlike his last two more rock-tastic albums.  Thematically, The Spinning Top is more complex.  It is a concept album, following the story of a man from birth to death, but the theme gets a little lost.  It comes across more as a way for Graham to expose his deep inner self without having to be held accountable for anything that he reveals.

The album opens slowly with “Look into the Light,” which sounds like a track straight out of Nick Drake’s catalog.  But the song builds you into the epic eight minute masterpiece of the album “In the Morning.”  Many people have said that Graham Coxon is one of the greatest guitarists of our generation and “In the Morning” drives that nail home.  Graham’s quick notes bloom into something greater where every instrument seems to be an extension of the guitar, growing the sound until it is more of a creature than a song, massaging your mind with musical bliss.

The Spinning Top continues on with many sweet acoustic gems until you get to “Dead Bees,” the first dark moment on the album.  The grinding guitar rhythm is haunting and hypnotic flowing into the next rock-ish song “Sorrow’s Army,” which bears the closest resemblance to his more recent work.  I can only assume these two songs represent the turbulence of young adulthood since the album quickly flows back into softer ballads.  The only exception to this being “Caspian Sea,” which sounds like a prog experiment gone awry.

Overall The Spinning Top is a glorious record and a breath of fresh air from the MacBook dominated indie scene that has slowly been taking over.  It is wonderful to hear a true master of his instrument showing what can be done with a little ingenuity and a lot of talent.  If you can appreciate acoustic guitar mastery, download this album right away.  If you want something cute to dance to, or a new Blur album, you’re not going to get that here.

Song to Worship:  In The Morning

Song to Rock Out to:  Dead Bees

Song that Doesn’t Belong:  Caspian Sea

Song to Pretend that Nick Drake is Still Alive to:  Look Into the Light

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