Review: Mark McCabe – A Good Way To Bury Bad News

Mark McCabe‘s second record, released earlier this week, is the sort of album that you take with you when you go for long walks with the dog in the bracing wind and you want to feel a little bit sad. A melancholic and mostly acoustic affair, A Good Way To Bury Bad News is profound and lovely, yet totally accessible, and resonates with all of the times you’ve ever hidden under the duvet while providing a glimmer of hope through the end of it all.

A Good Way To Bury Bad News is an album of contradictions. McCabe’s songwriting style is intricate, and yet simple. The subjects of the songs are sad, but at the same time, each track tends to have an uplifting moment. McCabe’s lyrics are honest and raw throughout, a trick perhaps picked up through his association with the punk scene rather than the “new-folk” scene, and often, surprisingly witty. There are stories about clinical depression, relationships that fail due to geographical affinity, and tales of growing up. The record is filled with subtleties, from the quiet cymbals in ‘Easy For Me To Say’ to the slide guitar in ‘Crutches’, but it’s also loud and proud when it wants to be, featuring beautiful strings throughout that rise and fall perfectly with McCabe’s soft Scottish tones. For the most part, it all seems to flow nicely until it reaches the end – ‘My Disguise Is Better Than Yours’, ending on a wonderfully optimistic note, would have been better suited to the final track rather than ‘Join The Crowd, but this is neither here nor there. It just simply is, and that’s a feeling that carries on all the way through the record.

I’ll be honest, if you’re feeling fragile, this might not be the record for you. But otherwise, McCabe has a grasp on human emotion that is very rarely paralleled in this kind of genre. As frank as Elliott Smith and with far less pretension than Frank Turner, A Good Way To Bury Bad News is a beautiful and moving record.

4 out of 5 high fives!

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