• Denzil
  • Pub (Play/Giant) 1994 

Those wrinkles in the brow of Bournemouth singer/songwriter Denzil Thomas seem to have been well earned. A welcome entrant in the English furrow between early Elvis Costello and late Richard Thompson, he’s “Too Scared to Be True” on his debut album, wonders “Who Made You So Cynical About Me?,” feels the presence of a girl’s dad with them in the back of a car and envisions his baby daughter making out with “some great baboon” named Duane and ultimately “Running This Family.” Actually, the slippery sands of domestic bliss provide Denzil’s worst fears: most of the songs on this winning semi-electric exposition which describes mundanity with the wry, intimate detail of a Nick Hornby or Roddy Doyle novel, concern family life, especially as it ushers along confessional reflections regarding dad’s own befuddled youth. Other topics emerge in the margins: “Cutie” sardonically castigates tabloid readers for their blind prejudices, while “Shame” wags an easy finger at thoughtless evil-doers. Singing memorable tunes in a clear, slightly weedy tenor, tastefully backed by an electric trio, Denzil strikes a level balance between the ups and downs of life, making this public house an inviting semi-private home.

[Ira Robbins]