Robyn Hitchcock just released a brand-new, Joe Boyd-produced album titled The Man Upstairs that will be “part well-known favorites, part personal discoveries, and part originals.”
The Man Upstairs sees Hitchcock uniting with legendary producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention) for one of the most unique recordings of his already quite idiosyncratic career. Rather than simply record a new selection of songs, Boyd suggested what he called ‘a Judy Collins album’ such as Elektra would have released in 1967 – part well-known favorites, part personal discoveries, and part originals. The multi-tiered approach offered Hitchcock the rare opportunity to record as a performer, not “just another singer-songwriter laying their freshest eggs.” Thus, modern standards like Roxy Music’s “To Turn You On,” The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship,” and The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost In You” are interlaced with lesser-known gems from such pals as Grant-Lee Phillips (“Don’t Look Down”) and I Was A King (“Ferries”), the latter featuring harmony vocals and guitar from the Norwegian indiepop combo’s own Anne Lise Frøkedal. Meanwhile, new Hitchcock originals like “Trouble In Your Blood” and “Comme Toujours” stand among his most fragile and heartfelt, his stark vocal and guitar cast by Boyd against simple, autumnal backing from longtime collaborators Jenny Adejayan (cello), Charlie Francis (piano), and the aforementioned Frøkedal (harmonies).
The Man Upstairs is a beguiling diversion for Hitchcock, the forever odd bird.