Click to return to Dave’s Music Database home page.

Released: May 3, 2010

Rating: 4.500 (average of 2 ratings)

Genre: adult alternative rock

Quotable: --

Album Tracks:

  1. A Man with Nothing to Do
  2. Anywhere I’m Away from You
  3. At Home Inside Me
  4. You’ll Always Walk Alone
  5. Can’t Let Go of Her Now
  6. The Fight to Be Human
  7. Ready to Be
  8. The Way That It Falls
  9. As Long As You Don’t Come Back
  10. Everyone I Love
  11. Baby, You Survived

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • A Man with Nothing to Do (4/26/10) --

The Great War
Justin Currie
Justin Currie started out his career with “the criminally under-rated Scottish band Del Amitri.” JF Fans of that band “were likely disappointed by his somber 2007 solo debut.” HH “The sheer bliss” JF of “the bouncy, jangly pop that put Del Amitri on the charts for a short while” HH “shielded many listeners from the gripping bile of Currie’s lyrics,” JF but for 2007’s What Is Love For? “he offered no filters. He deadened the tempo, stripped away all the rock triumph, and used his lyrics to beat love to bits.” JF He himself said that album “was the dreary introspective one.” CR

“Now that it’s out of his system, Currie returns to the sound he’s best known for on his sophomore solo effort,” HH “a brighter, upbeat offering” CR “of infectious melodies and ingenious wordplay – a combination of dark lyrical themes melded with a newfound optimism.” AZ “Devotees will bask in every couplet of his narrative, textbook-shaped songs on this second solo album,” CR citing how “Currie gleefully defines the outer reaches of pop cynicism.” JF

“Others may find it all predictable and one-paced, and seemingly labouring under the credo that sonic adventure died about 30 years ago.” CR Those detractors would argue that “putting a straightforward backbeat behind bog-standard verse-chorus-middle-eight structures doesn’t necessarily make them any more sparkly or arresting. After 10 minutes of this album, the layman knows nothing surprising or novel whatsoever is going to happen. It’s the kind of stuff you picture Jools Holland guesting on, even if he isn’t.” CR

Whether one is one of the Currie faithful or not, it is true that The Great War “feels less pure or revelatory than the first.” JF This one “is more playful, but the self-deprecation can get epically dark and the resentment seething from each syllable sweeps you along on its wave of woe.” CS “But that’s relatively speaking. It’s still a terrific work, fired, as always, by Currie’s finely spun melodies, expertly placed hooks and ironically warm vocals.” JF “Currie has a leading man’s voice, masculine and sure, but also full of cunning and blarney. In the movie, he’d be played by Colin Farrell.” JF “‘Ready to Be’ and ‘A Man with Nothing to Do,’ meanwhile, push all the effortless pop rock buttons.” CS

The Great War was recorded in Glasgow in a studio that was once The Blue Nile’s rehearsal room.” NW Of the album title, Currie says, “‘I like to take phrases that have a very specific meaning and apply them to something else.’” NW “‘Obviously it’s not 1914-1918 so what does it mean? Is it referring to love, the struggle to be successful, the fight for survival? That’s a good question...’” NW

“It seems The Great War is really being waged with himself. What saves Currie from becoming just a bitter coot is the honesty of his self-examination, the beauty of his singing and the verve of his music.” JF His “vocals have also taken on an older/wiser quality, somewhat like those of Paul Carrack,” HH but “there is no mistaking his distinctive voice as it meshes pathos and wisdom with tinges of light.” HH

While critics may throw darts at the music, they seem unified in singing the praises of his lyrical abilities. “He writes of romance realised and thwarted, of melancholy wallowed in or shaken off, with intelligence and sincerity.” CR “There are lovelorn ballads here, but they are lightened by Currie’s typically wry wordplay and hooks every bit as memorable as those that defined the best Del Amitri songs. As usual, the lyrics explore darker themes of lost love and relationships gone or going bad, but they do so with underlying wit and the often self-deprecating humor Currie is famous for.” HH “Most songs have clever twists, with punch-lines or ‘reveals’ (his words).” CR “Currie eyes a cliché the way a killer does his prey. Sentimental ones – particularly those that appear in popular songs – stand first in line for slaughter.” JF “Even the CD’s dedication pulls a snarky switcheroo. ‘This album isn’t particularly dedicated,’ he writes in the liner notes. ‘It just does its thing.’” JF

First single, A Man with Nothing to Do, sports “ringing guitars and an instantly hummable chorus, even seem[ing] like a rewrite of ‘Not Where It’s At,’” HH one of those shoulda-been hits from Del Amitri days. Currie “paints himself as a master of uselessness.” JF “Propelled by Jim McDermott’s rock-solid drum beat,” NW “this impeccable opener freights trace elements of The Beatles alongside a classy country-rock groove.” NW Currie says, “‘This came quite late in the writing process. I’d had the title for a long time and when I eventually came to write the last three or four songs for the record, it helped me out. It’s ironic because actually, as a songwriter, you do spend most of the time sitting around doing nothing, waiting for inspiration.’” NW

“Songwriting doesn’t get any classier than” NW Anywhere I’m Away from You. This is “adult rock with brains and balls” CS with “Mick Slaven’s guitar sounding for all the world like it’s being disemboweled.” CS while “Nick Clark’s loping bassline underpins a wickedly sharp tale of a man turning his back on love.” NW “Currie takes on the whole history of lover-as-home-base songs, asserting that, for his part, he only feels safe when his lover is nowhere in sight.” JF He says, “‘On the surface it’s nasty song about someone enjoying being on the road because they don’t want to be with the other person. But sometimes being as nasty as this actually betrays the fact that there are still profound feelings at work. It's not quite as simple as it first seems.’” NW

On At Home Inside Me, Justin sings “Fistfight at a wedding, a killing on the stairs,” while “behind him, the band cook up a groove that’s not a million miles away from your favourite Del Amitri moment. Currie says, “‘It’s about the way you see things in the street, or in the news, and they stick in your mind. You end up with all this information inside your head that stirs up feelings of guilt or fear or empathy. And sometimes it gets hard to switch all that off.’” NW

In a demonstration of his clever wordplay, “Currie seizes on one of the most stirring songs in music history – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – only to twist it into an answer titled You’ll Always Walk Alone.” JF The song is a “gorgeous, string-driven ballad” NW that “jumps the divide to wring extra emotion…although it should be made clear there is no political agenda.” CS This one “might take you straight back to Abbey Road.” NW Currie says, “‘Originally this was going to be a b-side on the ‘No, Surrender’ EP but it worked so well that I decided to keep it for this record. The string players – six of them – were following an arrangement done by a friend of mine Jote Osahn, who’s worked with Elbow and McAlmont & Butler as well as Del Amitri.’” NW

“Former Del Amitri guitarist Mick Slaven plays a galloping banjo part that drives” NW Can’t Let Go of Her Now. “This breezy upbeat number…seems, on the surface, the album’s most romantic track. But is it? Currie says, “‘It’s about two people but it’s almost like the man is compelled to hold on to the woman rather than wanting too. It’s a trick that The Beatles used to use a lot but, for me, if it’s a sweet song there has to be something a little bit sour in there. And vice versa of course.’” NW

“The tick-tock metronome beat and cycling piano chords create a stark backing” NW on The Fight to Be Human. One reviewer called this “a peak into Currie’s abyss we’d rather not see.” JF “Currie’s anger inspires a too-literal expression of hate…Then again, that misstep only throws into higher relief the tricky calibration of the rest, making us even more awed by Currie’s ability to make even the most depressing truths rousing.” JF

Another review called this “the album’s centerpiece,” NW “a majestic epic that rails against the world, while clinging to it tightly at the same time. By the time it all kicks in around the four-minute mark, you’ll be hooked.” NW Currie says, “‘This was really the last thing to be written for the record. Previously when I’ve written similar tightly-structured verse-chorus songs they’ve taken weeks. This was done and dusted in less than a day. It was one of those times when you feel the song is just pouring out through you.’” NW

“From the opening guitar riff to the king-size chorus [of Ready to Be] this is pure pop perfection…If you can stop jumping round the room long enough, look out for that extraordinary Television-style guitar solo in the outro.” NW In the song, Currie “vows to live down to his nasty reputation.” JF As he says, “‘the lyric has a bit of twist to it. I like to use real-world emotions to create scenarios or feelings within songs. A lot of the songs start out negatively as though the characters in them are at some kind of loggerheads and then sometimes they end up in some kind of more positive situation.’” NW

The opening line of The Way That It Falls – “life is wonderful, you love the days until you’’re dead and cold” – “is the perfect example of Justin’s sweet and sour approach to songwriting. And it graces one of The Great War’s most outstanding tracks, a gorgeous, sweeping ballad that locates the one-time punk rocker alongside master songsmiths like Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach.” NW Currie says, “‘From a technical songwriting point of view I I was very satisfied with this – it’s one of the ones you play to people and they instantly go, ‘That’s a GOOD song’. And it’s a subject matter that I don’t think I’ve ever written about before so I was pleased to have written about something that’s not a love song.’” NW

“While the first half of the record sound very British, the second half shifts over the Atlantic. Boasting some fabulous guitar playing from Mick Slaven,” NW the “sun-kissed country-rock ballad” NW As Long As You Don’t Come Back “sounds like it could have been penned in Laurel Canyon back in the days when Joni Mitchell, CSNY and Jackson Browne were all holed up there. Currie says, “‘This is related to ‘Anywhere I’m Away from You’ and, again, on the surface it’s one that seems pretty nasty. The Rolling Stones are past masters of those kind of barbed, apparently misogynistic songs. I think there is a vulnerability in Jagger’s voice that suggests the reason he is so angry at someone is because he’s so in love with them. And that really works with me. I really like that.’” NW

In the “brutally personal” CS Everyone I Love, “the appearance of Amitri guitarist Mick Slaven…can’t help but reference the sound of Currie’s old band. Slaven’s twisted slide solo… is one of this album's defining moments and shows that Currie isn’t afraid to color outside of the pop/rock boundaries he generally stays within.” HH The “guitars get dirty and squawky and the rhythms venture into Bad Seeds territory.” CR The narrator “catalogues a list of impure intentions…[declaring] ‘tonight I’m gonna hurt everyone I love / just to see if they love me’. He gives ‘his bitter side a little exercise’.” CR As Currie says, “‘I don’t write rock songs very often so sometimes I’m forced to raid the song cupboard. But the subject matter of this one was a perfect fit for the theme of the album too.’” NW

The strings on Baby, You Survived “may remind you of those great Walker Brothers pop epics and Justin’s voice, which is on incredible form throughout the album, fits perfectly against that backdrop. Look out too for fantastic performances from drummer Jim McDermott and pianist Peter Adams. Currie says, “‘This is one of a series of family songs that were initially going to make up the record. I’d written a song about my parents and a song, ‘In My Heart the War Goes On’, about my sister. That’s a very rare thing for me. I was focusing on the idea of family, or marriage, being in an eternal state of war or conflict. Not in a bad way – I come from a very happy family – but families are an interesting dynamic. This particular song is about somebody’s relationship with their mother. It’s quite gloomy until the very last line, which ends on a positive note.’” NW

“Certainly The Great War is more commercially oriented than his previous release, but there are also moments when Currie shows that, unlike the majority of his radio-ready songs in Del Amitri, he’s comfortable in less jaunty waters. That makes this set satisfying on many levels and should win back the Amitri fans he might have alienated the last time around.” HH

Review Source(s):
  • AZ
  • JF Jim Farber, New York Daily News “Justin Currie’s ‘The Great War’ wages war on sentimental cliches.” (5/4/10)
  • HH Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide
  • CR Chris Roberts, BBC “Currie’s strength lies in his lyrics, delivered with intelligence and sincerity.” (5/4/10).
  • CS Colin Somerville, The Scotland “Album review: Justin Currie – The Great War.” (5/2/10)
  • NW News of the World “Justin Currie Runs the Rule Over His Latest Masterpiece.” (5/2/10)

Related DMDB Link(s):

previous album: What Is Love For? (2007) Del Amitri’s DMDB page

A Man with Nothing to Do (video)

Click on box above to check out the DMDB on Facebook.

Last updated July 24, 2010.