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Jacob Golden | Hallelujah World (Rough Trade)
Is Jacob Golden the new Jeff Buckley? Well, sadly not, although Golden is certainly an able vocalist. His voice is attractively androgynous, peculiarly delicate; indeed, the femininity and clarity of his voice belie some of his more distasteful lyrics. In truth, the lyrics on this record are at their best when obscured by Jacob's heartfelt delivery of them. In short, he's no Leonard Cohen - (what, no cover of Hallelujah? More on that later). Sensibly, the better songs have been sequenced to follow each other and are all slotted into the first half of the record. Come On Over is the radio hit of the piece, but in this case the term is not pejorative. Its conventional pop arrangement and faster pace suit Golden, who in other places is in danger of taking it all far too seriously. Equally, Turn Up the Stereo, with its grace and uncharacteristic understatement is much more powerful than its more fervent epic counterparts. On Play for Life, Mr Golden does stray (rather impressively) into Jeff Buckley territory - however, the feeling is fleeting. The following seven tracks fail to deliver on the promise of what has gone before and, ultimately, 'Hallelujah World' not only lacks profundity, but there is a strange ring of insincerity in Golden's earnestness. There may be no version of Hallelujah, but Jacob has written his very own Hallelujah World - (perhaps he realised that John Cale's Hallelujah is superior to Buckley's) - and he appears to suggest that it is a world in which, according to Polyamory, 'When the time comes you will believe in Jacob'. Well, the record's atrocious, artwork (this, although self-evident, ought to be mentioned - it's all his own work, bless him) and its dubious confederacy of sex and religion make that an unlikely prospect. All in all, it should have been an EP.

Allie Roxburgh
August 2002