(d.a.m., 2002)

Dig through enough dirt and you'll turn up a diamond. Sure enough, I must have dug through several Everest-sized compost heaps before I stumbled across a CD by Truman, a gem that could outshine a grinning Tony Blair advertising toothpaste.

The reason for my near hysteria is Simon Rea, a singer-songwriter who, if there is any justice or integrity left in the music business, should be signed up to a multi-million-dollar recording deal immediately. Unfortunately, he doesn't stammer, won't appeal to money-spending 8-year-olds, and worst of all, has more talent than the all of the current chart acts put together. Shameful, isn't it!

All the tracks on the CD -- confusingly titled XXX, try ordering that in the shops! -- jump out of the speakers sounding so familiar that you're convinced that you must have heard them before. The craftsmanship of the opener, "Somebody Said," alone demands total respect. With the vocals flowing like warm honey over unfussy acoustic guitars, the lyrics burrow into your head and stay there until you're embarrassing yourself and your loved ones karaoke-style.

"Do and be Done" follows on in the same infectious folk-pop vein, as does the upbeat "Paper Anna," a song that's reminiscent of a time somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and an acoustic Beach Boys -- high praise, I know, but fully justified. "Stars Collide" and "Maybe I" are on the mellow side, beautifully written heartbreakers that must surely confirm Rea as one of the best songwriters we've produced in an age.

Truman come over as somewhere between Del Amitri, Crowded House and a grown-up version of David Gray. Rarely can a critic find nothing to criticise -- does that mean I'm out of a job? -- but then this is music at its very best. Put the kids to bed, turn down the lights, splash out on your favourite bottle of falling-down juice and relax in the warm blanket of Truman; life won't get any better.

[ by Steve Davies ]
Rambles: 16 March 2002