Graham Coxon, “The Kiss of Morning”

Eric D'Orazio

For the past 13 years, Graham Coxon has been an integral part of the Britpop supergroup, Blur. With blaring guitars and emotional backing vocals, he helped the band plow through the British charts and cement themselves as one of the greatest bands of the ’90s, let alone of all time. However, throughout his illustrious career with the band, little time or attention was given to his solo material. Though two of his songs were used in the last few of Blur albums, the majority of his material ended up on three self-released solo albums, all of which sold relatively miserably. After a great deal of frustration over his views on the direction in which Blur was heading musically, Coxon left the group late last year. Amidst all the troubles he faced, he wrote, recorded and released his fourth solo album around that time. Entitled “The Kiss Of Morning,” it exhibits Coxon’s full potential as a singer/songwriter and displays in deep detail the feelings of a man towards his former band.

“The Kiss Of Morning,” begins with the song “Bitter Tears.” Staying quite literal to its title, the song depicts Coxon’s longing for lasting love and intimacy in his life–a life that has been marred by instant success, alcohol abuse and emotional depravity. It even alludes to his deep want for a well-settled family life. The fact that the song’s content is complemented by a slow and pensive guitar riff makes it all the more powerful to the listener, hands down one of the best tracks on the album.

The next bit of musical mastery on Coxon’s part arrives in the form of “It Ain’t No Lie,” the album’s fifth track. Standing as a more upbeat number, the song focuses on Coxon’s uneasiness with the life he has led and the self-affirmed truth that he knows where he is going now. In the chorus he sings “I’m walking a tightrope from morning ’til night” and that he won’t waste his life “like them other guys,” apparently alluding to his former bandmates. But besides bashing his old group, Coxon manages to lay down a superb array of Zeppelin-esque guitar licks throughout the song, so much that it simply diminishes nearly all of the work he did during his stay in Blur. He assures that his reformation “ain’t no lie,” and you can be sure he’s not kidding.

Though Graham Coxon appears to be quite docile through most of his songs, he vents his anger in “Song For The Sick,” the album’s penultimate song. At first it seems to be another acoustic ballad, but soon enough he launches into a lyrical diatribe as to how much he hates a man named Taylor for figuratively stabbing him in the back and acting like a fake. Coxon opens the song by singing, “didn’t take you long boy / to stop from being a friend.” By doing so, it becomes apparent that the song is about Blur singer/songwriter Damon Albarn. Though they were friends from childhood, it was Albarn who instigated Coxon’s ousting from the band. To date Coxon has denied the song’s affiliation with Albarn, but it sadly speaks for itself.

Through all its emotional ups and downs, “The Kiss Of Morning” comes out as a modern day classic that defines the cost of life in the limelight. Unto itself, it is a unique piece of work from a highly esteemed, but highly estranged, guitarist who took control of his career, not to mention his life as a whole. The only thing more unique than the album’s subject matter is its sound, moving from alternative to folk to country in a matter of 13 songs. It just goes to show that he is limitless in respect to what he can do musically. While Blur prepares to release a new album this spring, “The Kiss Of Morning” has given Graham Coxon a new dawn and the means to enjoy it.