Highlights: Almost Optimistic, My Old Dancing Shoes, Sweet Nothing, Smoking On The Cancer Ward, Kisses And Scars
Playful. You could even say upbeat. Floral Tributes was written at roughly the same period as Lo-Fi Lullabies, but this time John’s songs are performed by a jazz quartet and so the sound is something you could actually get your teeth into. You could smile once or twice, you could possibly even break into a sad and lonely dance during songs like “Through The Eyes Of A Drunk” or “Smoking On The Cancer Ward”.
The arrangements are lusher, fuller, and even the voice has more meat to it. Lyrically, too, there is a bright (still dim) side on occasion, and the opening “Almost Optimistic” is the perfect example of what I’m talking about. Almost, though, that’s one cruel word. Incidentally, my favourite lyric on the album is all bitter, sardonic wit. A line from the aforementioned “Through The Eyes Of A Drunk”: ‘If the world is such a funny place, how come nobody is laughing?..’
So essentially Floral Tributes is a perfect companion to Lo-Fi Lullabies. Its playfulness is jazzy and obvious, but it isn’t sober and is, quite possibly, totally delusional. As for the actual songs, they are just as good as the ones that made up Lullabies. Particular favourites include “Sweet Nothing” with its hazy, smoky night bar vibe, “Almost Optimistic” with an unforgettable piano hook line and “Smoking On The Cancer Ward” with its sound of fucked-up intelligence drunk out of its mind. If that makes any sense. The closing “Kisses And Scars” ties the two albums together, beautifully. It is more elaborately produced than the Lullabies version, it has affecting female back-up vocals, but its wounded charm is just as understated.
Well, what else is there to mention? Two things. The tasteful cover art that was, I understand, created by John Moore himself. And the fact that since these two albums will not find a huge audience, there is all the more reason to do something about it. I’m kind of almost optimistic about that.