Cardboard Cowboy - Shorthand For Love

Martin Drury 03/10/2005

Rating: 4/5

Cardboard Cowboy produce mellow folk-rock with the faintest whiff of a simple, strumming guitar. These songs are the ballads of softness. The first notes are beautiful and the music simply wafts with a quiet earnest to greet the ear. Some of the songs may drag in the same way much of David Gray's easy-listening output rejuvenates itself into even longer life. The lyrics may split into words repeated again and a again on a loop and the simplistic nature of the recording may shift ever so slightly into the territory of the tedious. But Cardboard Cowboy knows what their genre expects of

them and they deliver what their audience expects of them. Soft, elicit music wrapped in a mellow cloak of delicate concern for lyrics and an agonisingly complex respect for music. Each notes matters. Each vocal intonation matters. With this concern in play, it's little surprise that this record verges on the perfect.

Cardboard Cowboy rejects the light-airy lyrical influences of Coldplay, Bloc Party and Athlete and instead opts for the introspective, rough-around-the-edges approach to lyrics beloved of the Killers. Mellowness leads to sadness and sadness to sorrow. Each line of the lyrics is tinged with the sense of regret and the longing for the opportunity to lament. Several of the tracks blur into one mass of music. This is no bad thing because Cardboard Cowboy have more to show for their payment. Drums kick in and a rockier edge forces proceedings into the territory of the intense, the dark and at times the sinister. This album has the unique ability to please a number of listeners from a number of genres.

The lead vocalist's voice is truly superb and the instruments accompany, refusing to drown out the band's brilliance. Take a journey into uncharted territory that somehow manages to remain all the more familiar than some of the newer music found on the high street. Take the message to the people. The Cardboard Cowboy has come to town.