Har­le­quin Nights

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

Richard Clap­ton

MGM VET­ERAN rocker Richard Clap­ton is one of those Aus­tralian in­sti­tu­tions who ac­tu­ally de­serves the overused ep­i­thet icon. The man who brought us hits such as Girls in the Av­enue,

Capricorn Dancer and I am an Is­land still takes the stage on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and his first al­bum in eight years shows he hasn’t lost his touch as a song­writer. De­scribed as the book­end to the crit­i­cally ac­claimed 1977 al­bum Good­bye Tiger,

Har­le­quin Nights veers be­tween the heady op­ti­mism of open­ing track Sunny Side Up and the poignant au­tum­nal re­flec­tion of the beau­ti­ful

Blue Skies. ‘‘ A for­tune teller down in the beach says she’ll read my palm for free but I don’t dare,’’ Clap­ton tells us. ‘‘ Don’t want to go there.’’ Clap­ton, who fa­mously took his name from heroes Keith Richards and Eric Clap­ton, and has never had an easy life, di­vorced dur­ing the al­bum but says this helped boost him cre­atively, as did his song writ­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with gui­tarist Danny Spencer. The re­sult is a rich sound­scape of clas­sic Clap­ton: a trou­ba­dour buf­feted by un­cer­tain winds and still search­ing for an­swers in songs such as the epic Vapour Trails but push­ing on re­gard­less in the folksy

Run Like a River. An up-tempo homage to hard par­ty­ing, Danc­ing with the Vam­pires, is the first sin­gle. It’s not as strong melod­i­cally as some of the ear­lier tracks but there’s some nice gui­tar work and a ref­er­ence to Char­lie Sheen. Clap­ton keeps a few nuggets, the jazzy Shady Love and a pow­er­ful bal­lad, Keep Your Blue Eyes Open

Wide, to round off the al­bum. There are no great sur­prises in Har­le­quin Nights. Clap­ton has not tried to rein­vent him­self or take a de­tour into some strange mu­si­cal genre. Rather, it is a solid evo­lu­tion by one of the na­tion’s premier artists.

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