It’s off up to Aberdeen for this one. Craig John Davidson is a native of the granite city and The Last Laugh, his fourth release, is his first for the very fine Aberdonian Indy label, Fat Hippy Records. A one man band, Davidson plays all of the sounds on the album apart from some strings on one song and it’s the rippling and intricate acoustic guitars which stand out from the off as Davidson wraps them in layers and swathes of sound. Some of his guitar work is dazzling as his fingers dance around the fretboard and there are several moments when the notes seem capable of flight with a fine example occurring on the title song where there is a wonderful cadence as a George Harrison styled electric guitar briefly appears. There’s another sublime moment at the end of Price To Pay with a brief coda that sounds as if it was plucked from the mind of Arthur Lee.
While the predominant sound is of the acoustic guitar Davidson adds subtle keyboards, occasional drums and utilises reverb and multitracking to achieve a hazy, dreamlike sound. His wispy vocals float over and around the music and the only quibble one might have that is he lacks range leading to an initial impression that most of the songs are much of a one. However if you can discard that thought and listen to the music there are miniature gems to be found in the majority of the songs here. While the likes of Bert Jansch and Elliott Smith are being bandied about as influences here the album reminded me at times of another one man band album, Skip Spence’s Oar. Despite the overdubs and multitracking there’s a desolate sense to the which comes to the fore on the closing song One Last Laugh. However there’s beauty in sadness and this album is abundant with it.
The album’s released today and there’s a launch party at Captain Toms in Aberdeen. Davidson will be in Glasgow on Sunday 12th May at the Slouch bar. More dates on his website