Robyn Hitchcock – The Man Downstairs: Demos & Rarities (Tiny Ghost Records)

The Man Downstairs is a new self-released collection of demos from the singular, and always psychedelic Robyn Hitchcock. This record (or in this case the now quickly becoming charmingly anachronistic CD) seems to pull the off the hat trick of of being perhaps slightly better than the album proper that these rough drafts were intended for, which in case you were wondering was his 2014 album The Man Upstairs, a Judy Collins inspired collection of half covers and originals cut with legendary producer Joe Boyd. The songs presented on Downstairs share none of the same originals or cover selections with the album they were potentially intended for, making this an entirely new listening experience. Boasting a more direct and unfussy sounding approach, it features covers of such towering musical specters such as Nick Drake, Syd Barrett, Townes Van Zandt, and Bob Dylan slotted next to Robyn’s original material. The originals presented on here such as “I Pray When I’m Drunk,” and “The Threat Of Freedom” hedge into an isolated sounding acoustic mode not unlike the approach utilized by the artist on some of his most classic works like 1983’s I Often Dream of Trains, and 1990’s Eye. Given our current state of isolation, it might be time to pay a visit to the man downstairs. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a slide into autumn with a side order of existential dread.

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