Review: Badly Drawn Boy – ‘I Saw You Walk Away’


It’s been a while since Damon Gough‘s name has been met with anything but low blows and sneering comments from critics and fickle fans alike; churning out albums that just don’t quite feel like home, it takes no genius to see that his Mercury Music Prize success over a decade ago wound up as a blessing and a curse in equal measure.

All of that, however, seems set to change with his latest release; ‘It’s What I’m Thinking Pt1: Photographing Snowflakes‘ –  an album sent straight from his soul, tackling the inevitable frailties that come with being human: love, loss, inadequacy, loneliness and the eternal search for salvation. It seems as though Mr. Gough has finally clambered back upon his wayward horse and created something fresh, original, and best of all, something beautiful.

The single taken from the album is the gorgeous ‘I Saw You Walk Away‘ – it truly is Gough at his best. With a harmonious, natural progression throughout the song, it seems to float over and under and all around you until it burrows its way right under your skin and into your heart. It is, undoubtedly, a perfect projection of emotion and an earful of loveliness.

Instrumentally, there lies a comforting balance and rhythm which becomes almost meditative as the song sails along. Held together by a peaceful, structured drum-beat and infused with a comforting, volatile guitar, ‘I Saw You Walk Away‘ is the musical representation of sailing down a river in a rickety wooden boat – skipping stones to match the tingling spatters of piano, and wading through the pearly, sporadic strings. Idyllic, comforting and carefully composed, everything just somehow…fits.

Lyrically, there lies an essence of purity that is hard to ignore. Gough paints his feelings with tender hands, oozing sincerity and pouring his pain into his music without a glimmer of immature angst – the song alone reads honestly and therapeutically, marking the transition from badly drawn boy to a pretty finely formed man. He captures the elusive nature of love and loss from a sentimental yet simple stance, without ribbons and bows and all of the frills that most mainstream musicians seem to wrap it up with – managing to key into the human condition where many have failed. If this alone doesn’t deserve a standing ovation, I don’t know what does.

As a whole, ‘I Saw You Walk Away‘ is a charming piece of music interwoven with all of the threads needed to catch people’s hearts. It’s like sitting alone, watching the sun rise on the first day of summer – a song sent to anyone who has known the trials that come with falling in love. It not only has the potential to be a success, but to accomplish that which is becoming increasingly rare since the days of soul pilgrims like Neil Young and back-in-the-day Dylan – to reach out through their troubles and find infinite hands to hold and be held. To soothe and be soothed. To create music for a reason far more wholesome than to caress one’s ego – to create music to be one step closer to freedom. I can only hope that Gough holds onto this, and inspires others to do the same. And for now, I wish him the very best of luck with ‘I Saw You Walk Away‘ and the entirety of ‘Photographing Snowflakes‘.

(Alisha Riley)

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