There's something beautifully raw and imperfect about Northern Irish singer songwriter Duke Special. He sings with an accent, but it's a soft and endearing one that makes you want to pick him up and put him in your pocket. He sounds vulnerable, like an innocent child singing simple little tunes his mother might have taught him to sing when he's afraid to banish evil demons.
This new version of Freewheel doesn't sound quite as organic as the previous recording available on the Lucky Me EP, but it's certainly still a great deal closer to Damien Rice than the overpolished sound of James Blunt. Really though, it seems Duke Special is yet to be captured on disc to his full potential, as neither recording is a patch on hearing him perform the song live.
Forget the A-side though, because tracks two and three on this CD are certainly worth shelling out for - Something Might Happen is a beautifully simple piano ballad that doesn't suffer from the overproduction of the first track, and Soundtrack To... sees Mr Special take a quite different, experimental direction with strings, choral vocal arrangements, a military drum beat and a spoken sample: and it works really well.