I really liked Craig Robertson‘s song Undead so I was therefore very pleased when he kindly sent me a copy of his latest CD, Better Liar.
The CD consists of eleven of Craig‘s original songs, including Undead, and of a cover of The Scorpion Queen, a song by ukulelezo Zoe Janzen.
Craig Robertson describes the style of Better Liar as Gothic Pop Noir. The ukulele is not the instrument that naturally springs to mind in association with Gothic Pop Noir but it does fit perfectly well with the songs, and creates a special atmosphere quite unique to Craig Robertson. A perfect demonstration that the ukulele is much more than a happy-go-lucky instrument.
Here is a review of the songs I liked best in the album.
Craig wrote Only a Bird, the first song of the album, after listening to a 1900 song by Harold von Tilzer, A Bird in a Gilded Cage, a song telling the classical story of a young and beautiful woman married to an old man just for his wealth. Despite her riches, she remains unhappy, a bird in a gilded cage.
Only a Bird develops on the same theme with a much modernised metaphor, a catchy song with lovely lyrics. Chords and lyrics to the song are available on Craig‘s website here.
The second song, Broken’s Spoken Here is one of my favourite of the album. Imagine yourself in a bar, close your eyes and listen carefully to the lyrics. You’ll feel as if you were transported to the scene, the lyrics painting such a vivid portrait of a breakup. The rhythm of the song and Craig’s voice emphasize the drama and the slide guitar solo towards the end of the song adds to the atmosphere.
Listen to Broken’s Spoken Here by Craig RobertsonBroken's Spoken Here
Lyrics to Broken’s Spoken here are available here.
Rosa’s Song is another interesting song, starting with muted strings as percussions and building up with the ukulele and bass. The rhythm is slightly haunting, a perfect match to the lyrics. I really love the ukulele in the song.
Craig’s cover of The Scorpion Queen, is also about creating an atmosphere. The Syntar gives an oriental feel to the song.
Undead is the kind of song that you will be humming before you know it, it’s a really nice pop song.
One thing I find really remarkable in Better Liar is Craig‘s storytelling abilities. You start listening to a song, your mind fills with pictures created from the lyrics along with the atmosphere conveyed by the music, and pretty soon you find yourself escaping from the real world.
Pigeons and Hawks and Conjure Box are typical examples. After the first verses you are hooked and you really feel like knowing what’s going to happen next. And then there are the catchy choruses for you to sing along.
The song Conjure Box is especially compelling and the ukulele hammering contributes to creating some kind of suspense and a slightly uneasy atmosphere. A really great song.
Lyrics can be found here.
Better Liar, the closing song of the CD has a completely different style. Ukulele fingerpicking emphasizes a nostalgic and reflective feel to the song.
Craig playing Better Liar on his 50’s Gibson tenor uke.
In conclusion, I really recommend the CD Better Liar. Creative lyrics, ukulele, great voice and songs with melodies that stick in your head make it a very enjoyable CD.
Order the CD here.
Check out Craig Robertson’s website : Ukulele Noir
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