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Badly Drawn Boy

Indie pop tunesmith storms the Fillmore

I wish I could say I've been listening to Badly Drawn Boy for years, that he was one of my favorite artists before Hugh Grant and Hollywood got a hold of him. I'd like to be able to say I cringed as his name exploded on the music scene, hung my head in disappointment as his shows began selling out in hours because I had known him first and now my love would be diluted by his mainstream popularity. But I can't. Sure, I'd heard his name. I'd also read at least 30 articles that called him Britain's answer to Elliot Smith, but before I saw the feel-good movie About a Boy (Based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name) I hadn't heard a single note by this supposedly brilliant songwriter.

So what did I think after seeing the movie and hearing its soundtrack, which the artist in question composed and performed in its entirety? Well, I jumped right on the bandwagon. This Badly Drawn Boy sounded pretty darn good and I decided to find out more about him.

Born in Northern England as Damon Gough, his popularity came about several years ago after releasing a number of EPs on Twisted Nerve, the record label he set up with Andy Votel, a British DJ. Soon after, Gough was peering down at the indie rock world from the towering reaches of a media-built pedestal, crafted from words like pop phenomenon and song-writing genius. In 2000 he hit the ground running with his debut full-length The Hour of Bewilderbeast, an epic 19-track album with enough pop savvy to satisfy even the most persnickety of critics. With the release of this seamless LP, Gough managed to keep his footing on the pedestal of acclaim when most artists faced with that degree of preceding hype would be hanging on by a guitar-picking finger.

Badly Drawn Boy plays what I like to call comfort music. His sweet guitar melodies, the fullness of his orchestrated pieces are like a plate of steaming lasagna or a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup on a blustery day. Like sliding your feet into slippers before braving the mid-winter iciness of a hardwood floor. His songs range from simple emotive piano ballads to bona fide pop songs brimming with organs, horns and the glossy gleam of production. His gentle song-writing style is endearing and after a few good listens you'll want Badly Drawn Boy to be your friend. Sure his lyrics are a bit on the trite side, but when he croons "All the things I'm feeling, there's no one here to feel them with me", you really understand where he's coming from.

One look at Damon Gough and you'll trust he took his persona straight from the list next to singer/songwriter in the How To Be An Indie Rocker handbook. Disheveled hair, check. Knit cap, check. Facial hair to hide behind and a slouching stature, check. Add incessantly hummable tunes, innate sensitivity and a likeness to George Harrison, Nick Drake and [insert name of favorite British iconographic folk/pop musician] and you've got yourself a sold-out show.