RICHARD DAVIES Telegraph (Blue Rose/Flydaddy/V2)

In the last ish I mentioned that this (ex-Moles, ex-Cardinals, whoever they both may be) man’s contribution to the Blue Rose sampler "9 O’Clock In The Morning" was one of the CD’s highlights, and consequently I was looking forward to obtaining "Telegraph", his critically lauded second album. Now that its arrived I have to say that I’m still not sure whether Richard Davies is a genius or not. There are parts of this album that suggest that he clearly is - the rippling, Television meets Eno guitar introduction to the opening track "Cantina", the entirety of "Main Street Electrical Parade" and the lovely cyclic coda of "Days To Remember". But the overall feeling of "Telegraph" is of a singer/songwriter (which, effectively, is what Davies is, although he’d probably blanch at the description) album that seems determined to obfuscate its music and lyrics to the point that any understanding or interpretation is useless.

I would defy anyone to pinpoint what any of these songs (possibly with the exception of "Days To Remember" are actually about. The great thing about the best singer/songwriters - Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Cohen, Harry Chapin - is that they used lyrics to take you places, make you think, challenge, elicit a reaction, or simply dazzle with brilliantly dextrous wordplay (I’m thinking of Mr Zimmerman circa 1965/6 here, particularly). But for me Davies does none of these things, and so my predominant feeling on listening to this album is one of bafflement. The accompanying music misses rather more ofen than not, too: normally I’d note the presence of melodies that obstinately refuse to meander where you’d expect them to go as a plus, but here they only add to the confusion. Listen to "Surface Of The Sun", for example: it’s not difficult or challenging music in the Beefheart sense, but some of the twists and turns just sound grating to me.

Maybe in a few months’ time everything will fall into place and "Telegraph" will suddenly make perfect sense to me. I hope so, because the sporadic moments of excellence it contains suggest that Davies has great talent, even though he sometime chooses to deploy it a little strangely. (Gift alert: the vinyl comes with a free one-sided 7" single, with the typically cryptic title "Cooper Rediscovered Radials".)