Gutter poetry, wild swings from shonky and jarring to smooth country twangs, piles of Bowie-like reverb on the vocals and a pleasing sense of fun. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve found it in this debut effort by Scott Lavene.
A strange word to use fun about a record that isn’t by Russ Abbott and his atmospheric crew, but Broke really is that. It is highly accomplished and, at times, complex, but it’s also rather gauchely joyous. Down at heel musings on the life mundane delivered in a reliably quirky fashion. Sure, it can grate initially – it is very affected, almost touching on Phil Daniels / Blur geezerness – but if you can get over that, it delivers a lot of smiles. Not everything has to be Leonard Cohen after all.
It shouldn’t be thought that Broke is a throwaway affair, however. Flotsam it ain’t. A fair chunk may be easily imaginable as the inspiring outro movie for a grimy but ultimately uplifting Britsh movie, but, there is a grit and emotion that gives it weight. It’s ramshackle but there is depth. Took a couple of listens to get to that heft, but it’s there. A sincerity and honesty in the raw lyrics. Not being someone who obsesses over lyrics, it takes a lot to prick up my ears. Here you get the full range from urban meanders about gentrification and getting loaded to the plaintive, “dancing on two left feet, straight into the arms of some place new“. As a description of the human condition, that rather nails things.
Broken is a totally British record. There are sparkles and glitter over the possible highlight, ‘Methylated Blue’, but even those lyrics about stars in the sky seem anchored by the half-arsed ordinariness of suburbia. Suburban country blues with half-spoken, half-sung musings; that about sums up this effort. That may not sound immediately inspiring, depending upon your tastes, but it certainly grew on me. Putting on weight and gaining two extra points by the third listen.
An intriguing success after a slightly unpromising start. Scott Lavene is, to use the dreaded phrase, one to watch. An honest voice ready to take the next, more artful step.
Broke is out now on Funnel Music.