A small triumph for words over music
The Divine Comedy have been entertaining the listening public since 1989, although singer Neil Hannon has been the only permanent member. It is Hannon's lyrical genius, full, deep and slightly gravelly voice that is the best thing about anything released under the band's name however, so the lack of steady instrumentalists seems unimportant on balance. 'A Lady Of A Certain Age' is taken from the band's ninth album ''Victory For The Comic Muse', following last single 'To Die A Virgin'.
Unlike the band's arguably best-known songs 'National Express' and 'Pop Singer's Fear Of The Pollen Count', 'A Lady Of A Certain Age' is a slow-moving song driven entirely by Hannon's narrative monologue, which tells the story of (unsurprisingly) an older lady's fall from the grace of 'Scaling the dizzy heights of high society / Armed only with a cheque-book and a family tree' to living alone in a little flat, with grown-up children earning lots of money and being married to the wrong people. It's hard not to find the lyrics a tad forced when they are examined away from their tune and the voice of Hannon, but within the song they manage to achieve a clever balance between humour and pathos.
Musically, the track could be more inventive, relying heavily on soft percussion, strings and piano – shamelessly clichéd tricks to add emotion; but it doesn't feel as though the musicians aren't trying at all – as so often happens in a track carried largely by its vocalist. 'A Lady Of A Certain Age' may not be exciting or lively enough to win The Divine Comedy any new fans, but it certainly won't disappoint their existing ones, and reminds the listener that it is always worth paying attention to lyrics.