Badly Drawn Boy Born in the UK

Things have not gone according to plan for Badly Drawn Boy. Ever since his Mercury Prize-winning debut, each subsequent release has been greeted with less acclaim and fanfare, and so expectations are probably not particularly high for his fifth album, Born in the UK. Damon Gough has never tried to hide his Springsteen obsession and it has never been any more obvious than here. From the thinly disguised homage on the title to name-checking the song "Thunder Road” on his own "One Last Dance,” he’s trying his best channel the Boss’ working class balladeering. Born in the UK is the kind of album that people like Gough make at this point in the career. His songwriting skills have developed in a way that means songs feel more complete than they have in the past, and the production is a lot glossier than it has been before. But it has come at a cost — the ramshackle charm of his early songs is gone and it is hard not to miss it at times. It is also a very sentimental record with Gough caught up in the world of love and relationships, and dwelling nostalgically on days gone by. That might sound fine on paper, but when it is conveyed through slower songs, it verges on being a little dull at times. Fortunately his lyrics are still his strong point and can help to keep things going when the music is dragging its heels. So while Born in the UK isn’t his best album, it is definitely a step in the right direction. (EMI)