"Here lies the end of me, it's all getting dark and hard to see,
Time takes its toll on me, but it couldn't be clearer,
The Evening Echo call it the end of an era"
The début album from Southend's David Woodcock is full of wry observations on life and quiet nods towards his home town. When you come from the same are it almost makes you feel part of an in joke, as you recognise places like The Railway Hotel and Pier Hill. And I've been reading the Evening Echo's local news for local people since I was in short trousers (I've even been in it a few times) so I'm familiar with their hyperbole (and poor spelling).
But you don't have to be an Essex boy or girl to appreciate the warmth of Woodcock's wit. Though it's true that David's music is currently getting a lot of support on BBC 6music from North Essex luminary Steve Lamacq, anyone with even a slight sense of the eccentric or a taste for quirky Englishness will enjoy the cut of his jib. With his voice sounding like Damon Albarn at his most 'mockney' and a talent for shoehorning lyrics into melodies like Ian Dury (especially on 'Same Things') he scampers his way though love and loss. If you'd seen him on a bill singing 'Open Secret' between Squeeze and Madness back in the day he would've fitted right in.
There's a strongly confessional feel to the songwriting here, although they can't all be true. Apart from anything else, one minute he's pleading the fact that just because he's never left the country doesn't mean he's boring (on 'The Adventures of You and Me') and the next he's telling tales of 'Springtime in New York'. But I'm sure a lot of people will identify with his status of being a 'Relatively Single Man' - going nowhere with no back-up plan. By the time you get to album closer 'I Forgot To Miss You (late night at The Railway Hotel) you really do feel like you've spent a night in the pub with him.
So if you fancy a bit of end of the pier revelry, especially if that pier's the longest pleasure pier in the world, then give David Woodcock a try. And maybe buy him a Drambuie next time you see him in The Railway Hotel...