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Badly Drawn Boy

Born in the U.K. (Astralwerks)

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No one is more British than Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, which may explain why he hasn't broken through in the States. His brilliant score for the Hugh Grant film About a Boy failed to attract Yanks in sizable numbers, and the subverted nod to Springsteen contained in the title of his new CD probably won't reverse that trend.

That's a pity, because Gough's latest release under his quirky nom de plume is as rich and satisfying as any of his discs to date. The ornate presentation often gives the proceedings the feel of a Broadway musical, especially on tracks such as "Welcome to the Overground," which contains a chorus rousing enough to make theatergoers demand a refund for their Rent tickets. But Gough still leaves room for intimacy, as the tune "Without a Kiss" matches the romanticism of anything in James Blunt's catalog -- and without the syrupy aftertaste.

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