Dave Amitri on Fatal Mistakes
“How do I feel about “Fatal Mistakes”? I’m really not sure. If Currie and Co really do have insight into my soul then the album will be wiser, a bit battered round the edges but with a new purpose and real joy at what the future might bring. If it is expect a review soon. If it’s not, if it’s more of the same I might not listen more than once.”
Well that’s what I wrote at the end of my brain dump of all things Del Amitri recently. The fact I’m here now writing this is proof that the album is more the former than the latter. It is as always scattered with Currie couplets that cut straight through to the bone mixed with melodies and harmonies able to make your heart sing. It’s a constant fight between light and dark but overall an experience I’d rather go through than not. As I’ve explained at length Del Amitri have moved beyond a mere musical experience to something far deeper “Fatal Mistakes” is a worthy addition. So on with the review…
The first three tracks on the album seem to report on the processes that brought the band and I suspect Currie in particular back to us. “You Can’t Go Back” is a jingle jangle tune reminiscent of a slowed down “Roll To Me” with perfect harmonies. It feels to me like an ode to fans laced with a warning of the potential pitfalls of a return. It could just be a warning not to return to a failed relationship. “Same thing Dave”. Well yes it may well be. Either way an upbeat start and a brilliant pop song.
“All Hail Blind Love” next and there’s no ambiguity here it’s all about that unique relationship between Del Amitri and their fans. Currie’s self deprecation is set to 11 with lyrics like
“Don’t assume we’ve mellowed. We still think of one another as a fraud. Such strange bedfellows. It’s the hatred and resentment you applaud”
Only Currie could be so scathing. It’s darkly melodic and straight from the box marked “I can’t believe we’re still getting away with it”. I love it.
Now we get even darker as more introspection and self loathing pour out of “Musicians and Beer”. A song so black, blasphemous and brooding that you fear for Currie’s wellbeing over the last 18 years. This song will seep into the darkest recesses of your mind. I don’t get the Muddy Waters reference. Maybe someone can help.
Just what we need after that opening trilogy is s song about Brexit which just what we get. The far too clever for it’s own good, open to interpretation “Close Your Eyes and Think of England”
“A boat afloat on the ocean with the chains of state a jingling and at the sight of intermingling. Close your eyes”
I think it’s a dig at those that watched it unfold in blind apathy as the leavers did their worst. But you can view it anyway you choose. It’s a great piece of social commentary wrapped up in a lilting tune with those blissful harmonies again.
The next song is one where Currie has finally let himself see a better future. The title immediately resonates with me in that way only a Del Amitri song can. Which of us haven’t been at that point where we’ve uttered the words “I’m losing the will to live..”? Well how about flipping that on it’s head and “Losing The Will To Die”? What a turn of phrase he has. Have I ever been suicidal? No. But losing the will to die is where I am now. Too much to live for you see. Just Google the lyrics. Genius? Bloody right. Seeing right into my soul? He’s at it again. Wow…
Follow that? Well how about a heartbreaking lament of what could have been? “Otherwise” while not this time personally effecting it’s a tear jerking tale from the Currie book of lost love songs. Up there with his very best. Tissues required. I hope there’s not someone out there going through a break up like Chris Difford was. This song needs a health warning it’s so sad.
I have a feeling (ha ha) that “Its Feelings” was written for the radio and it ticks every single box. Light, bright, and airy it’s the sort of pop song Currie can probably write in his sleep. A perfect break from the gloom except of course…
“Holding a dead man’s hand as his watch ticks like the rain”
Means once again under the cover of the fragrant lavender tune hides the stinging nettle menace of a Currie lyric.
Strap yourselves in for what comes next “I’m So Scared of Dying”. This is the one. This is me, right now at this time in my life. Scared of dying? Aren’t we all? Of course we are. This song though exposes the selfishness and cowardice behind those thoughts. I don’t want to die because I don’t want to leave you behind. You can go first. Not only that. If I die first you’ll realise just how good life could have been for you without me.
“Or you to figure out you should have long ago got free. It’s better for both if I survive so you never know how it feels to truly be alive. I’m so scared of dying and leaving you behind”
So there it is I could do a whole piece on this song alone but I’ll spare you that. 18 years of wait worth it for that song alone. Phew!
It’s hard to follow that. “Mockingbird, Copy Me Now” is a really lovely song hiding another dark lyric behind a country feel. I don’t think I’ve given it much attention because of what came before. I’m sure that will come overtime.
“Missing Person” is maybe self reflective looking as it does at loneliness and isolation from the point of view of a man drinking alone.
“Alone with my one obsession. Me, me, me.”
I don’t know much about Currie’s home life but I hope this is fictional. It would have killed me 20 years ago.
“Second Staircase” could have applied to me once. Caring for someone else while in a relationship and choosing not to take the second staircase out. It also touches on the pain even having the thoughts can cause but ultimately…
“I can’t take the second staircase. It’s all too much to lose”
“Lonely” could be a follow up had the second staircase been taken. It’s another lament to love lost and how empty a life can be alone. Another song from my past that I can listen to now with a “Fuck you, I can enjoy you for what you are. You can’t hurt me now” point of view.
A stream of consciousness rant against just about everything finishes the album. “A Nation Of Caners” is the grizzled old grandfather of the young and naive “Nothing Ever Happens” or the scary uncle of the blazing “I Surrender” from Curries solo career.
“We’re a nation of caners. Who can blame us?”
What a way to finish. To see Currie do these poems to music live is an absolute treat and a remarkable test of his memory.
So that’s it, a glorious mix of traditional Del Amitri heartbreak, some biting social commentary, a few nods to their relationship with their fans and some uniquely Del Amitri glimpses into a brighter future all wrapped up in melody and harmony that is a heady mix to these ears.
As a sometime hyperbolic writer I can overdo praise but Del Amitri’s 7th album (Currie’s 11th including solo stuff) is evidence were it needed that Currie is one of the greatest lyricists we’ve seen. Accompanied by Iain Harvies sometimes rocking often laconic guitar it produces something unique in popular music. I feel lucky to have Del Amitri in my life. These songs will join the rest and maybe some will come to mean as much to me. I really hope there’s more to come and instead of two or three shafts of right among the “Fatal Mistakes” we’ll get and album full of “Harmless Successes” next time….