There have been all too many singer/songwriters in the charts in the last few years but very few with the skill with words and the sheer soul of Andy White.
Disc one of this 2cd set comprises songs from his various solo albums and his gently Irish voice comes through the excellent arrangements with surprising impact. Mind, he has played and written with the likes of Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and The Finn brothers he has had a great grounding in his craft and the tracks from his 1992 debut ‘Out There’ through to his latest ‘Songwriter’ in 2009 show his development but also the fact that he has never quite stopped “blowing bubbles on the Lisburn Road”.
The earliest track here is ‘Berlin 6am’ and there are echoes of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ in a lilting and sweet number. The latest is ‘Start All Over Again’ from 2009 and the song is still about relationships with the full production but this is still the same character – a little older but not necessarily very much. As you delve deeper into the album you find gems like ‘Jesus In A Cadillac’ and ‘Italian Girls on Mopeds’ or the wonderful ‘Samuel Becket’. This is what singer/songwriting is all about – stories and intriguing insights into the singers febrile mind all wrapped around with music that is easy to listen to but worth any effort expended.
The second disc is a set of readings set to music and because you are listening to the man as raconteur rather than troubadour you have to listen deeper into his words but the effort is well worth it. He describes touring as “like Kerouac but with luggage” – modern day beat made real with his bag as travelling companion. It all gets so deep into the experiences of the man that I actually preferred it to disc 1 – his sense of humour is clear but the characters he generates are so real that you begin to picture them clearly – the drunk in ‘So ****ing Gay’ is a guy you know you’ve met a hundred times.
I am almost ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard much of him before but this double set is making straight for my favourites – simply exceptional.