The Fashionably Late Top 66 of 2017: Paul Draper
I’ve put together my list of favorites from the year that was, a touch fashionably late as always. Once again, I’ve decided to eschew a ranking system and instead give you an alphabetical look at the records I fell for this year. There’s some names here that will come as no surprise to anyone, and perhaps a few that might surprise you. These are simply my favorites from 2017, the albums I went back to again and again, the albums that I swooned over. So, without further exposition, here’s my list. I think you’ll find you can get your kicks from any and all of the 66 records I’ve chosen, and I truly hope you’ll find some treasures to cherish, as I cherish each and every record here. Many, many thanks to the artists who put out this fantastic music, their sounds helped make 2017 bearable.
Who: Paul Draper
What: Spooky Action
When: August 2017
Why: As L.P. Hartley wrote in the glorious 1953 novel The Go-Between, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." For Paul Draper, frontman of the excellent late 90s outfit Mansun, the past has been lurking in the rearview, at times probably too close. But with his solo debut, Spooky Action, Draper successfully distances himself from the past - while also holding fast to the things that first appealed to fans all those years ago. The sardonic, cheeky wit and vocal flair for the dramatic are still present and accounted for, as is Draper's gift for putting a song together. What really stands out for me is his shift from writing about veiled caricatures of English oddballs, The Prisoner, and television to a decidedly more personal song content. At times the lyrics here are cut to the quick, and at others they're the ones doing the cutting. Of course one can only surmise who inspired some of these songs, but "Friends Make The Worst Enemies" and "You Don't Really Know Someone, Til You Fall Out With Them" hint at fractured relationships with certain former compatriots. Spooky Action is something special indeed, a rich and refined effort that signals a return to form and then some.