Belated UK release for 34-year-old Liverpool-born popsmith

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John Cunningham – Happy-Go-Unlucky

A couple of years back, Joe Pernice bent my ear about Cunningham being the freshest blast of pop air he’d heard in aeons. On his fifth album?with Pernice’s eulogising sleevenotes?it’s easy to see why. Though his early-’90s career was kickstarted by ex-Housemartin Stan Cullimore, 1998’s beautiful Homeless House was the first inkling of star-on-the-up. Happy-Go-Unlucky comes similarly draped in velvety pop smarts, though this time fuller and tonally richer. Set atop woodwinds, gently dipping strings, stabbing pianos and reedy guitars, JC’s voice owes as much to McCartney as contemporaries Kevin Tihista and Richard Davies, with arrangements worthy of Curt Boettcher. A latterday chaser to Emitt Rhodes’ eponymous 1970 debut.