|Finley Quaye - Much More Than Much Love|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 16 March 2004|
Finley Quaye has one of those nasal voices one mostly associates with reggae singers, but he certainly doesn’t sing a whole lot of reggae here. It’s as if the statement he’s trying to make with “Much More Than Much Love” is that his music is about much more than merely reggae.
It’s not until “Now And Forever,” a full nine songs into the album, that Quaye’s distinct reggae side fully shows through. In fact, the next two songs (“This Is How I Feel” and “Pearls of Wisdom”) round out the brief reggae-ness of this release. “This Is How I Feel” has a bubbling beat and nicely clipped guitar work. “Pearls of Wisdom,” on the other hand, incorporates dub elements, as well as horns (or synthetic brass, perhaps), echoing keyboards and group vocals. The rest of this album, however, is almost anything else but reggae.
One of the unique tracks on this recording is “Dice,” produced by William Orbit and featuring backing vocals from Beth Orton. It’s closer to modern dance music than anything else. “Adorable,” on the other hand, is big guitar rock, with a sweet sax solo. It has all the markings of one of INXS’s slithery dance-rock workouts. “Overriding Volunteer,” which appears to be vaguely political, is more straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, and “Overcome” has a jangling rock vibe to it.
Another song here, “Lovers Return,” is particularly out of place from the rest. With its acoustic guitar backing and stripped down arrangement, I’ll be danged if it ain’t country music. Had Quaye added fiddle, steel guitar, or both, it would have really been scary. Elsewhere, “Waiting For You” is closer to Quaye’s primary inspiration, as it’s a taste of R&B/soul. In fact, it could easily pass for a Righteous Brothers ballad.
It’s painfully obvious that Quaye’s biggest shortcoming is in the lyric department. More often than not, he sounds almost like he’s making up the words as he goes along with these songs. Few of these writings offer any memorable lines. Most embarrassing of all is the “sock it to me” refrain on “Pearls of Wisdom.” If he were trying to be cute and retro, that’d be one thing. But he’s actually being completely sincere here. This is one outdated line that should have been retired for good back on the old “Laugh In” set.
“Much More Than Much Love” is a likeable survey of island-influenced pop music, but it’s not going to make anybody forget icons like Bob Marley. It’s not bad, mind you, but it sure could have been much, much more.