?Allotments? does not allow the listen much solid ground, at least initially. This genre-shredding release quickly jumps styles, creating a dizzying array of sights and sounds, some of which may distract from its real strengths. In all, Aidan Smith has created a warped cabaret, with show tunes from both heaven and hell vying for his jaundiced leadership.
That leadership is provided by Smith?s quirky, winking vocals, which provide a sense of unity within the chaos of genre-bending. Think of this as a frantic slightly cynical ride through both bathos and whimsy, and you will be able to roll with the tangents.
Snide but lovable melodrama abounds in tunes like ?Note To Barbette, an Acrobat, Paris 1924,? ?Lament of a Victorian Prostitute, London 1985,? and the deliciously creepy ?Wearing Your Clothes.? All delivered with a wink, these tunes, lyrically remind us that we have been neurotic throughout time, perverse yet hopeful. The stripped down piano ballad ?Pockets? is one of many tunes that briefly shed the whimsy to reveal darker shades of emotion, as is the chilling ?Murder Ballad.? Since perverse cabaret would not be complete without the French influence, there is ?Drapes of Black.?
?Allotments? is a dizzying display of composition and cheeky spirit. Aidan Smith has not created a one of a kind document, but this is as close as it comes to being the type of personal, fearless statement of a great artist that are too infrequent today. 8/10 -- Mike Wood (18 June, 2008)