Deacon Blue : 
When The World Knows Your Name

CD Review July 1989


Straightfoward AOR doesn't come much better than this. Polished it may be, but there's no lack of energy or imagination to back it up. Americanised it certainly is, but that's the name of this particular game anyway, and they do it better than most of the native American practitioners.

It's partly the curious combination of such transatlantic music with such unmistakably Scottish sentiments that make it so captivating. Songwriter Ricky Ross allows the skylines and pavements of his native home, Dundee, to splash their granite grey across his closely observed tales of working people, friends and other musicians.

Yes, there's much more than a hint of Prefab Sprout here, and throaty raspings reminiscent of Tom Waits, but the attack is much more direct, more accessible than either of those.

Something I didn't notice on the first album is Ross's obsession with light. It appears in his titles - Circus Lights, The Changing Lights, The World Is Lit By Lightning and is implied in Silhouette. Even songs that don't use the word in the titles usually manage a reference to it in the lyrics, either directly or by allusion to shadows, suns, stars and the light of dawn.

It's a small detail, I agree, but Ross uses images of light again and again to set his scenes, or to make his tales much more atmospheric, and it is out of such details that great work is usually created.

It's still too soon to know if Ricky Ross will go on to become one of the greatest songwriters of the next decade, but with this release he's clearly in the running. Johnny Black