Dedi MaddenDedi Madden
Album: The Final Man
Label: Dagago
Tracks: 14

Is there any greater human truth than the sound of a singer opening their heart and sharing what's inside? It's an elemental form of communication, a universal connection and when there's a decent tune, a sweet voice and some nifty musicianship involved, it is pretty powerful stuff.

Which is as good a description as any of this lifetime-in-the-making solo debut from sometime Zero 7/Sia/Roger Waters guitarist Dedi Madden. Faultlessly soulful, its 14 tracks are meticulously well dressed in a beautifully crafted production and mixed by Noel Gallagher's desk jockey of choice, Paul Stacey.

The Final Man is one of those albums that delivers a new favourite listen with each pass - just as the songs seem to have revealed themselves, there's a little more to glimpse, a new lyrical twist or musical flourish to savour.

Co-written with Zero 7's Henry Binns, it's not surprising the sunkissed euphoric pop of Tell Me What the Day Is sounds the most familiar of these tunes, but within a few listens its classy hooks are in good company competing for memory space with a clutch of others from this elegantly persuasive album made more so by the perfectly marshalled efforts of a crack band that includes Jeremy Stacey (Noel Gallagher, Tom Jones, Waterboys) on drums, Zero 7/Jamie Cullum bassist Robin Mullarkey, Brit-jazzer Ben Castle, unsung hero Peter Dale on piano and the late Waterboys/Kokomo bass genius Mark Smith.

The classy, expansive orchestration of Meet You Now manages to find the missing link between Willie Mitchell's Hi Records heyday and Dennis Lambert's Tuneworks hits for The Commodes, Temps and Dennis Edwards among others. Yes, it's that good. Mellower, but no less incisive, the pastoral baroque pop of Whisper ploughs a banjo-lined furrow in the direction of Steve Winwood or even Paul Weller - how much does a whisper weigh? Indeed.

The gentler sounds of Gathered, Hot Air and Sweet Terror allow the spotlight to fall on Dedi's vocal delivery channeling a wealth of references from Marvin Gaye and Al Green through Richie Havens and Neil Young to Nick Drake, even Paul Buchanan. Elsewhere, the Southern States rhythm and blues of Century of the Self has an echo of John Hartford's In Tall Buildings; while Hot Air cooks up a mellow shuffle for a plaintive, but defiantly optimistic vibe with a jazzy heart.

The Final Man is a sophisticated soul-folk-pop-rock-ambient delight, a generous creative high that in a just world would attract an audience regardless of being made far away from traditional industry support. Let the magic do its work.

Nick Churchill