Today is a special day for those romantics amongst us. Or those who like bitter-sweet love songs, in which the usual tropes of love songs get turned on their head. Miserable gits who like miserable songs, in other words.
Josh Rouse’s “Sweetie” is one of his beautifully sung, gorgeously composed numbers that he seems able to turn out in his sleep. Seriously, does anyone have such a gift of picking out a tune as Josh? His tender voice sings plaintively over strummed acoustic guitar during the chorus, with the last line spelling out the song’s twisted romance:
“We’ll sleep on roof tops\We’ll ride on bicycles\Maybe we’ll get married\Don’t you want to, sweetie?”
As for the middle eight (“Won’t you sing with me…”), *swoons*. I wish I could write like this man.
Richard Hawley loves his bittersweet love songs too. He’s made his musical career out of them. And you know what? He’s damned good at it too. With a beautiful baritone that wouldn’t be out of place crooning away in the 1920’s, allied with guitar skills that would make Duane Eddy blush, he sings tales of lost love, fallen love, and all the myriad ways that love just goes wrong, of which “Valentine” (unsurprisingly) is one of his finest:
“Don’t need no valentines, no no\Don’t need no roses\Cos they just take me back in time, no no\Now you’re not here anymore”
If your heart doesn’t soar at the second chorus’s rising vocal line, you truly have no heart. Seeing him perform this live at the Royal Albert Hall was one of the highlights of my gig-going career. Whilst he might be a great example of the maxim that there’s nothing new under the sun, he shows you can still do something better than what’s come before with inspiration, big bags of talent, and hard work. Oh, and a great voice.1
And delving deeper into the well of melancholy, here’s that cheery chappie Will Oldham in full Palace Music garb, singing about Valentine’s Day. You just know it’s not going to be an easy ride.
“It’s Valentine’s day\And I’m catatonic”
What a marvellously twisted soul he is.
1 Speaking of which, his forum here is an absolute marvel. It’s been running for years and Richard himself is the main man on the site, chatting with fans about anything and everything. If only more musicians would talk to their audience like this…
(You know, you really want to go and buy all three of these. All are marvellous)