Blair Packham really starts off this album with a vocal style that is not unlike Elvis Costello; the vocals during this opening track recollects “Veronica”-era Costello, while the backing instrumentation gives the track an innovative flair. The only thing that can be said as a negative about this opening salvo has to be the extended ending of the track; the momentum that Packham was building up is dissipated. The second track, “Coming Undone” is much of the same that had started off the disc, although there seems to be a greater focus on the instrumentation backing Packham’s vocals on this go-around. Infusing “Happy Go Lucy” with a greater amount of blues, Packham actually recreates all the positives that one can associate with Lenny Kravitz (good guitar work and compelling vocals) without the cheese or ennui that is typically tied to Kravitz.
The style of lightly-electrified rock really looks towards more current acts like Vetiver (especially during “Little Fish”), and Packham plays a number of tracks that are quaint, especially considering there is not much in the terms of bite during the entirety of “Could’ve Been King”. By largely focusing on Packham’s vocals instead of the instrumentation on the disc, what really results is a very confident and straight-fiorward composition. There is no vocal quiver during the tracks on this disc; the instruments, trying their best to accentuate the vocals, similarly play this workhorse-type of music. There are not many tracks that seem destined for popular radio, but the Adam Duritz-like vocals of “Hard, Cold World” may be the bridge for Packham into the minds of a much larger audience. Coupled with this acceptable, pop-influenced track is some inkling of civic culture; the lyrics lambaste the crookedness of politicians.
This momentum is continued during the Zevon-esque “I’ll Think of You Foundly”. The same nasal quality of the fallen singer-songwriter is maintained for the track, as well as the looking-back seventies-style of the guitar, and this makes for a track that will inculcate itself into the heads of anyone large or small. “Could’ve Been King” is never an album that one can categorize as bland; there are different moods that are elicited for different tracks, and if this is not a reflection of the main brain behind the album, I really do not know what else could be. This album is a worthy purchase for those fans of the aforementioned Warren Zevon, Rufus Wainwright, or even White Lion (“Last” sounds slightly like “When The Children Cry”.)
Top Tracks: Last, Hard, Cold World
Blair Packham – Could’ve Been King / 2005 Factor / 12 Tracks / http://www.blairpackham.com / Reviewed 29 June 2005