CATHAL SMYTH A Comfortable Man
Chas Smash, one of Madness’s irrepressible ‘Nutty Boys’, would start a jerky dance-off at the drop of a pork pie hat, but 30 years later Cathal Smyth is a different kettle of mixed-up fish altogether, and his debut solo album is a testament to a life turned upside down. A
Comfortable Man is a cathartic exercise, as Smyth sings about how his marriage break-up and no longer being a stay-at-home father have impacted on his life. There is, then, nothing of Madness’s melodic, knees-up jollity here; rather, Smyth (who is no longer with that group) has taken the opportunity to lay bare his thoughts about personal matters across a sequence of gently wrought, beautifully orchestrated balladic pop songs with rather morose titles such as Goodbye Planet Earth, A Requiem for Common Sense, and Are the Children Happy?