XL/Twisted Nerve - 2002 - 44 minutes

The man in the hat puts music to the story of the kid in a hat and makes even more people fall for him. Given that the previous Hugh Grant vehicles have had Wet Wet Wet, Ronan Keating and Gabrielle supplying the music, it wouldn't be too difficult for this soundtrack to be the slickest of the bunch. But to Damon Gough's credit, he neither aims for the cooler-than-thou audience or pitches at the lowest common denominator. Instead the album occupies a gorgeous middle ground, giving his devotees something to talk about while they wait for his second album proper and the uninitiated a quick peak at the magic under the hat.

The testament of any good soundtrack is that it can either make you replay the movie in your head or still work perfectly well if you haven't made it to the cinema. And Gough manages both, the instrumentals like 'Dead Duck' and The Smiths-sounding 'Delta' spinning reel to reel memories with the likes of 'A Peak You Reach' and 'Silent Sigh' sparkling as stand-alone gems. Gough was a hired pen for this album, but he's put a grace and poise to it which only serves to show up most of the soundtrack pack. And while it mightn't be album number two from the 'Boy wonder, it is a very respectable one and a half.

Only question now is how many of his fans will be comfortable owning an album with Hugh Grant on the cover?

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Exit Stage Right - A Peak You Reach - Something to Talk About - Dead Duck - Above You, Below Me - I Love N.Y.E. - Silent Sigh - Wet, Wet, Wet - River-Sea-Ocean - S.P.A.T. - Rachel's Flat - Walking out of Stride - File Me Away - A Minor Incident - Delta (Little Boy Blues) - Donna & Blitzon