Lawrence of Arabia: Absolute Truth

If albums were drinks then Absolute Truth (Flying Nun), the new one from the local singer/songwriter with the exotic name would be a smoothie, quite a frothy smoothie. And sweet, but in a good way.

But Larry Arab’s edge is in the melancholy that pervades his songs and, especially, his voice, which is a marvellous and distinctive instrument, often floating at the high, delicate end.

And that helps at times with his lyrics, which tend toward the clever end of pop poetry. Not many pop singers use words like “concentric”, for instance, as Lawrence Arabia does, quite sensibly, on opening cut the gorgeous A Lake.

Sonically, there are Beatles, Beach Boys and Phoenix Foundation vibes, loads of lovely layered vocals and a bit of icing – well, enough to allow for trumpet, cello and (be still, my beating heart) flute. It’s a beautiful sounding album, especially in its quiet moments, like The Old Dancefloor where even the shimmer of brushes on snare drum seem emotional.

The album’s gem, for me anyway, is O Heathcote, which manages to be sweet, sad, catchy and wry all at once, with a lyric that runs to, “I got my PhD/Dee dee dee dee”. The only song of the 10 originals here that does rub me a little raw on repeat is Another Century, an evocation of Euro-pop that might make you want to turn to Abba for comfort.

Otherwise, a terrific album and, even better, one that responds favourably to familiarity. Possibly even a bit of a classic.