According to Duke Special, this – his third album – is a “visceral” collection, with a “dark, brooding edge”. The Belfast man seems to be slightly deluded in his dramatic destription of I Never Thought This Day Would Come.
Duke Special lists Tom Waits as one of his influences, a comparison which is a little optimistic.Whilst possessing similarities; instrumental choice, tempo and mood, Duke Special fails to exhibit the enormous charisma and confidence that makes Waits remarkable.
A more accurate comparison can be made to Special’s touring partners, The Divine Comedy and The Beautiful South. The similarities are highlighted on ‘Those Proverbs’, a pleasant, unchallenging slice of piano-pop. The restrained, warm playing and soft tones make it easy to enjoy, but it’s about as visceral as sponge cake.
Another, perhaps unfair, comparison, and one that Mr Dark and Brooding is unlikely to draw attention
to, is the vocalistic similarities between his and those of Daniel O’Donnell or Brian Kennedy. His unusual Northern lilt works with a soothing, calming vocal quality on ‘By the Skin of my Teeth’ to justify this ridiculously uncool comparison.
On the track, ‘I Never Thought this Day Would Come’, Duke Special manages to justify his Vaudeville
pretensions; the waltzy time signal he uses is not commonplace in pop music and an intimate whispered orchestral section gives the track character.
In all, I Never Thought This Day Would Come is a cheery dose of upbeat piano-pop, just don’t pay any attention to the dreadlocks-and-eyeliner appearance
or the wildly inaccurate self-description.
In a Nutshell: Look past any false pretensions and enjoy the album’s immediate appeal.