Marmaduke Dando – Sweet Dregs (Outsider Records) 
Marmaduke Dando - Sweet Dregs

For me, in a lot of ways, Marmaduke Dando represents that eccentric drunk that every pub has; always there and always at about the same stage of inebriation but I never really chat to him and I never see him get out of control or belligerent which is, in itself, quite sad. This persona comes through in the music, the lyrics and general ambiance created on Sweet Dregs as we explore a more high brow level of drunkard; think lovable drunken cad smelling of brandy rather than pissed up skin head smelling of his own urine and Fosters. The album opens with the fairly rousing sound of 'The Trick of Singularity' before sliding effortlessly in to the country tinged baritone ballad of 'Must We Be Bound', a song of depth and rib-cage rattling soul that hints at the huge emotional range of Marmaduke Dando's voice. 'We'll Go Dancing' is an invitation from the aforementioned drunken charmer, quite early in the evening, shrouded in sombre tones, rueful regrets and more than a touch of the dramatic. Indeed, much of the music here could easily be featured in a stage musical set sometime in the early 1900s centred around an eccentric character who has fallen on hard times despite some previous but not forgotten riches. There are times on this album when Dando sounds like you're self-pitying, wallowing mate who has bad luck tattooed on his arse and 'The Art Of Decay' is one of those moments - depending upon your mood, it's either the best or worst song in the world but I'll leave that up to you (the organ is undeniably gorgeous though).

'You Must Know I Adore You?' should really only be played in dark, smoky Jazz bars in the south of France as world weary women pour themselves in to cocktail dresses that are ripping at the seams and equally weary men sip cognac from cracked glasses and remember a time when love was a real possibility rather than just a humorous concept. Ironically, 'Old Friend' has the most up-tempo and positive beginning on the album despite an opening lyric of "So long old friend, I buried you as you did me". The piano refrain harks back to that theme of stage musicals mentioned earlier and Dando's voice is again full of the cracks and waivers of genuine emotion until the Cello joins the party and there isn't an unmoistened eye in the house. The soulful lament of Dando's voice is at its very best on 'We Are Lovers' as the singer croons over a soft, shuffling melody like thick honey dripping from a velvet spoon. Meanwhile, 'Crazy About You' will be the first dance of at least three Indie newlyweds before the year is out and 'I'll Drink To That' is a jaunty little number full of a rolling double bass, staccato piano riffs and a lively jazz drum beat that will keep the whiskey flowing and distract from the stains of one's own vomit upon one's own brogues. The album finale and title track, 'Sweet Dregs', is a waltz of fairytale proportions that lullabies the listener in to a drink soaked hammock on a ship destined for a motionless night's sleep full of twisted dreams and distorted realities. Once again, like the old drunk at the bar, there are times when you will ignore this album and even forget it exists but then again, in the right light and on the right kind of evening you will look on in awe and your ears, eyes, heart and soul will be filled with hope and despair in equal measure.

Live Dates:
15th August – Uncivilisation Festival, Petersfield
28th September – The Forge & Foundry, Camden

2nd November – The White Lion, Streatham