Born in the U.K., the fifth album from Badly Drawn Boy (a.k.a. Damon Gough), sounds like a rock 'n' roll musical. It's hardly a surprise from the British singer known for his soundtrack to the 2002 film, About a Boy, and a guy whose self-proclaimed hero is New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen.
Gough's album name (and title track) references, not too obscurely, Springsteen's own work. But the hat-tipping doesn't stop there: Gough also similarly relies on melody-driven, repetitive musical motifs and overproduced sound. The highly autobiographical album opens quite theatrically with a pseudo-prophetic, "There are good things all around / You just have to look longer and harder to see them," followed by a piano riff that makes several appearances on the album. What follows is a guitar version of Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" - the commencement song.
The cover hints at the the problems plaguing Born in the U.K., which ends up being a series of theatrical winks and overly literal references. What the lyrics lack in eloquence is made up for in transparent emotion. Songs like "The Way Things Used to Be" and "Walk You Home" are enjoyable - with Gough's satisfactory crooning and competent piano and guitar tunes - but not impressive.
Born in the U.K. is nonetheless a well-executed production, where track seamlessly melds into track (though perhaps out of monotony), and Badly Drawn Boy fans shouldn't be too disappointed. But its predecessor, One Plus One is One, would probably be a better place to start.