Having finally cleared the decks by finally getting the old record from 1996 out to the public, not forgetting the sideways trip into electronic ambience, the next two years saw Lloyd Cole turn into something akin to a folk singer, increasingly reliant on his trusty acoustic and his voice.
In some ways it was inevitable as the live shows were nowadays almost entirely acoustic with storytelling thrown in for good measure, increasingly at ease with the aging process and acknowledging that, for the most part, his audience were doing likewise. The old songs always got the loudest cheers and applause in the live setting but there was enough of a devotion from the fans that the new material was well received, enough for Lloyd to have a go at a really stripped down record not far removed from a home recording.
Music In A Foreign Language was recorded in 2002 and released in the UK on Sanctuary Records in June 2003. It was an album I enjoyed a great deal at the time, but giving it a fresh listen again a few days ago for the purposes of this series, I found it a little bit one-dimensional and lacking in ambition somewhat. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy hearing the songs again but they have sounded better played live over the years and the ones which LC has gradually dropped from his sets can now be seen as some of his less-strong material across his career. Lyrically, it’s a fairly straight-forward and unambiguous offer, albeit there are a couple of toe-curling moments of sixth-form prose that he’d never have allowed himself to sing back in his heyday.
The two most enduring songs on the album are a cover, and a surprising one at that, along with a wonderfully loose and stripped back version of a song he’d recorded and released with The Negatives
Yup, Lloyd does a fine job on one of Nick Cave‘s brooding numbers from his break-up album The Boatman’s Song. It sounds as if Lloyd is dedicating it just about everyone who he’s ever encountered in the music industry.