Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbot – Wisdom, Laughter and Lines

Posted on November 3, 2015

When The Beautiful South finally called it a day in the mid-noughties, Paul Heaton conceded that in music, in the words of the late Joe Strummer“when you are hot, you are hot, when you are not, you are not.”

Accepting that his days of commercial success were behind him, Heaton embarked on a solo career that was only really noticed by the likes of me and a scattering others who have suffered from Heaton bias ever since he first emerged as the singer songwriter of political-pop foursome, The Housemartins, in the mid-eighties.

His solo efforts, Acid Country and The Cross Eyed Rambler were decent albums but despite being regulars on my iPod, there can be no doubt that Heaton was missing a woman’s touch to compliment his immense talent as a writer of witty, romantic and bitter sweet lyrics.

Social networking came to the rescue with Heaton contacting former Beautiful South singer, Jacqui Abbot via Facebook and the pair were re-united, producing the critically acclaimed ‘What Have we Become’  in early 2014. Abbot’s soulful voice has reinvigorated Heaton and they have not looked back since; they are a musical match made in heaven.

After a week of listening to it, I absolutely love Wisdom, Laughter and Lines, it is an absolute firecracker of album, featuring pop, soul, reggae, country and even a hint of  The Liquidator on the single the Austerity of Love, a classically produced catchy pop song if you have ever heard one.

There are beautiful ballads including Sundial in the Shade, When Love for Woman Stops, You the Mountain and Me, more than a touch of rockabilly on Wives 1, 2 and 3, an uplifting reggae/ska opening on the catchy ‘No One Wants to Stay’ and some vintage Heaton ranting at the establishment in the tongue in cheek, Heatongrad.

The first track is the funky and uplifting (Man is) The Biggest Bitch of All, but my current favourites are the poignant ‘Lonesome and Sad Millionaire’ and ‘I Don’t See Them’  a great song that features more than a dash of Motown/Northern Soul and is, on a grey November afternoon, one of the most uplifting tracks I have heard for some time.

I Don’t See Them: An Uplifting Track With More Than a Touch of Motown

Wisdom, Laughter, Lines is an absolute corker of an album with great catchy tunes and cracking ballads,  with Heaton’s evergreen talent as one of the finest lyricists of his generation complimented by the the beautiful voice of Jaqui Abbot.


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