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The Spinning Top

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Album Review

It would have been too easy for Graham Coxon to settle into the pop groove he established with his excellent albums Happiness in Magazines and Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, and Coxon has never been one for taking things easy. Ever since he pushed Blur away from Brit-pop and into indie, Coxon has eagerly, earnestly explored new directions, and so it is with his seventh album, The Spinning Top, a loose song cycle that finds the singer/songwriter indulging in a new desire to be a British folk singer in the vein of Bert Jansch. Coxon abandons the tightly controlled punk-pop of Happiness and Love for delicate fingerpicking that's occasionally punctuated by weird, churning art rock (witness the roiling "Caspian Sea"), detours that arrive just often enough to accentuate the fragility of the rest of the record, a fragility that's enhanced by Graham's quivering sincerity. In a manner not too far removed from his earliest solo albums, where he upped the lo-fi ante so far he wound up being harder to digest than his idols, Coxon almost goes too far in replicating the pastoral sweep of Jansch, Davy Graham, and Nick Drake, not so much succumbing to hero worship but rather making his blueprint too evident. Such skeptical thoughts wash away upon repeated listens, when it becomes easier to admire the subtle shifts in arrangements, Coxon's always impeccable and imaginative fretwork and, most of all, his ever-increasing skill as a songwriter. Perhaps these songs aren't as immediate as his pop tunes, but they're finely crafted and rewarding, as is this quietly surprising album is as a whole.


Born: 12 March 1969 in Rinteln, Hannover, Germany

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

He's the guitarist of one of London's most delightful Brit-pop bands, and Graham Coxon is the quiet one. As the chief guitarist of Blur, his sheer and jointed guitar riffs made him a distinctive part in leading the four-piece into alternative creative outlets, not to be overshadowed by the popular hysteria painted by the press. Noticeably, Blur went from cockney rebels to experimental intellects throughout their growing roster of material during the mid- to late '90s. Still Coxon wanted to steer...
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The Spinning Top, Graham Coxon
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