Album: Don McLean, Addicted to Black (Proper)

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The Independent Culture

Don McLean's reputation has rested largely on a few early songs – the endlessly recycled "American Pie", "Vincent", and the much-covered crooner's favourite "And I Love Her So" – which, a glance at his back catalogue confirms, is more than enough to support a long and prolific career.

Addicted To Black, he threatens, will be his final album, and it's not a bad set on which to sign off, with several well-wrought reflections on life, love and ageing, and at least one heartbreaking classic in "I Was Always Young", where a lonely, divorced man sorts through old photos of his ex-wife and the old friends who "called out of the blue, they asked how they could reach you". If you can hear it without a lump in your throat, you're probably too young to care. A similarly autumnal melancholy looms over "Shadowland" and "The Three Of Us", while McLean's skills as songsmith are effortlessly demonstrated in "Promise To Remember", a torch-song in Willie Nelson style, perfect for this century's equivalent of Patsy Cline. The title-track is an enjoyably trenchant paean to the moody, stylish and slimming qualities of black clothes, "This Is America" a somewhat portentous (and puzzling) tribute to Eisenhower, while "In A Museum" offers a subtle reflection on cultural iconhood than the heavy-handed Princess Di parable "Run, Diana Run".

Download this I Was Always Young; Addicted To Black; Promise To Remember