The Man UpstairsThe Man Upstairs is the new album from psychedelic folk troubadour Robyn Hitchcock on Yep Roc Records, arriving hot on the heels of 2013′s Love From London. The new release sees Hitchcock uniting with legendary producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention) for an unusual recording in an already quite idiosyncratic career, stretching over twenty albums (give or take).
The collection on The Man Upstairs is a bit of a mixture – covers of well-known favourites, covers of personal discoveries, and part originals.
Thus, modern standards like Roxy Music’s “To Turn You On,” The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship,” and the Psychedelic Furs’ classic “The Ghost In You” are interlaced with lesser-known gems from Grant-Lee Phillips (“Don’t Look Down” – ‘mum is the word, dumb is a better word‘) and I Was A King (“Ferries”). New Hitchcock originals like “Trouble In Your Blood” and “Comme Toujours” are included as well.
Despite the variety in source material, the treatment is very consistent – stark Hitchcock vocals and guitar, with strings and piano accompaniment, the latter from long time collaborators Jenny Adejayan (cello), Charlie Francis (piano), and Frøkedal (harmonies).
Recorded and mixed at London’s Snap Studio in just one week last October, The Man Upstairs comes adorned with macabre cover art painted by singer/songwriter Gillian Welch.
I often find a sizeable collection of covers to be a disappointment. Some of the reconstructions here are interesting – “The Crystal Ship” without The Doors’ bombast provides a refreshing take. “To Turn You On’ has a beautiful rolling piano, a la Nick Drake and I like the tenderness of “San Francisco Patrol”, another original. I saw Hitchcock briefly in Nashville just last month and he previewed a new song “Follow Your Money” in an acoustic setting and, for me, it surpasses anything on this record. But there’s enough here that is worthy of a listen.
The Man Upstairs track list:
1. The Ghost In You
2. San Francisco Patrol
3. To Turn You On
4. Trouble In Your Blood
5. Somebody To Break Your Heart
6. Don’t Look Down
8. Comme Toujours
9. The Crystal Ship
10. Recalling The Truth