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The Ballad of Ruben Garcia

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Album Review

Read his reviews and one must assume that Philip Jeays has surely long grown accustomed to comparisons that sweep from Belgian Jacques Brel to Californian Scott Walker, and has long accepted his place within an axis of melancholy that paints him into a furiously dramatic corner filled with bitter old men on Parisian sidewalks and vicious young lovers in Italian cafes, swilling death, doom, and depression to the bleat of a distant trombone. Yet he is also a distinctly English performer, and the currents that sweep through his best songs are as redolent of his homeland as rain-swept seaside postcards, the wind in the flaps of a Punch and Judy tent, and a dog-eared copy of The Clergyman's Daughter. And The Ballad of Ruben Garcia, his third solo album, might well be his most English record yet. Alive with wit and vision, but pertinently observant as well, it certainly contains one of the greatest English songs ever, as "London" trails slowly through the same alleyways and underpasses that inspired Ray Davies to "Waterloo Sunset," and is just as lovely as that role model. That said, you can certainly balance those sentiments against the extraordinarily evocative "Midnight in Trieste," the Latin drama of the title song, or even the borderless utopia of "I'll Never Be a Patriot." And pursuing an even greater universality, the opening track is a role model for everyone who has ever dreamed of breathing his last, on a deathbed surrounded by every soul he's ever known — and saying "f*ck you" to the lot of them.


Born: 1962 in Taunton, Somerset, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the most extraordinary singer/songwriters in recent British memory, Philip Jeays was born in Taunton, Somerset, in 1962, although he did not consider music as a career until the early '80s, when a three-year stay in France introduced him to the work of the late Jacques Brel. Returning to England in 1983, he took his formal music lessons from his mother, herself a trained Royal Academy of Music opera singer, and began writing his first songs. Over the next decade,Jeays played around the London...
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The Ballad of Ruben Garcia, Philip Jeays
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