Marmaduke Dando ‘Sweet Dregs’

Marmaduke Dando ‘Sweet Dregs’

Marmaduke Dando SD

As the inimitable troubadour of forlorn, Scott Walker, once crooned, “Loneliness is a cloak you wear/A deep shade of blue is always there”. That very same miasma of inspired melancholy and sentiment also shadows the worthy torchbearer, Marmaduke Dando – another musical craftsman, similarly steeped in anguish.

His judicious showcase debut of romanticised delusion, Heathcliffian Surly, saw Dando adopt a Byronic sensibility; as he cooed with wit and dreamy reflection about a tortured artistic lifestyle, squirrelled away in a candle lit garret retreat. Ameliorating another catalogue of sorrow and pain on the follow-up, Sweet Dregs, Dando languidly drifts between fated Jacobite and Weimar era barroom philosopher.

Despite the air of mournful trepidation, there’s a certain – very welcoming – gospel swing in Dando’s gait on the opening anthem, ‘The Trick Of Singularity’. Sounding like Nick Cave impersonating Leonard Cohen impersonating Elvis, backed by a swaying string quartet and soulful choral harmony, Dando is unusually upbeat, even rallying. Up-tempo and radiant compared to the rest of the album, this is the artist at his best yet as he makes full use of that newly acquired, Elysian Quartet, whose often weepy and diaphanous resonance adds warmth and grandeur:  I envisage Dando bending down on his knees, eyes closed in holy communion with his maker as the repeated rousing, “I’m brought to my senses”, mantra reaches its ever raspy voiced, preacher rock’n’roll, style climax.

With élan and wit Dando’s vocal plays homage to obvious influences – the already mentioned Cave and Cohen. His swooning range and deep vibrato also recall a moody Lloyd Cole, and on the enchanted, tidal swaying, waltz, ‘We’ll Go Dancing’, David Sylvian.


Lifting his maudlin demeanour from the pillow of despondency, Dando turns the death of an, ‘Old Friend’, into a paean to resigned meditation on the, “…trauma of youth”, and inevitability of regret. Hardened by sadness, our troubled graveside vigilator opines: “It gets harder every year, to part with a single tear.”

Staying close to, or rather moving towards the funeral parlor itself, there’s a hunted, cremation ceremonial accompanying, Hammond organ on the despondent, ‘The Art Of Dying’, and Bryan Ferry shakes and quivers over a country bound love song, ‘Crazy About You’.

Continuing to wearily pull influences and environments from the past, Dando lurches like a Kurt Weill lush, drinking to the health of any cause or subject, as long as it blocks out the memories of solitude, on the saloon lament, ‘I’ll Drink To That’. Teetering on a knife-edge of cynical sloshed sage and heart-pranged lover, he sneers at the, “…intolerably employed”; rounding on the insufferable sober saps: “I’d rather be ridiculed than ridiculous, with a glass in my hand.”


Funded almost entirely via the Indiegogo hub, costs were extremely tight – especially as Dando, quite rightly, wished to record in a analogue equipped studio; live and onto tape -, the strings taking the biggest chunk out of that budget, hence their use was sanctioned to only a few songs; the results however, worth every penny.

Musically enriched with a certain spirited disposition and some outside help with scoring orchestration, this sagacious album suite is indeed the ‘sweetest of dregs’, sucked and supped from a barrel of wallowing despair, yet highly sumptuous and endearingly rich in melodic qualities. Marmaduke Dando’s finest endeavor yet.


Released: Available Now



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