English rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He emerged as part of the New Wave. His intricate yet impassioned lyrics have made him one of the UK's foremost songwriters, and he dominated the UK rock scene into the early 1980s. His hits range from the political rocker ‘Oliver's Army’ (1979) to the country weepy ‘Good Year for the Roses’ (1981) and the punning pop of ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ (1983).
The stylistic range of his work was evident from his 1977 debut My Aim Is True and was further extended in 1993 when he collaborated with the classical Brodsky Quartet on the song cycle The Juliet Letters. From his second album (This Year's Model (1978)) to Goodbye Cruel World (1984) he worked exclusively with his backing group, the Attractions; the group also appeared on Blood and Chocolate (1986). Other musicians were used on, for example, King of America (1986) and Mighty Like a Rose (1991).
In 1998 he worked with Burt Bacharach on the album Painted from Memory; their song ‘I Still Have That Other Girl’ won a 1999 Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. A collaboration with opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter in 2001 preceded a new pop album, When I Was Cruel (2002). An album of old-fashioned love songs, North (2003), was not particularly well received. He continued to collaborate with a number of artists including T Bone Burnett, Alison Krauss, Marian McPartland, and Allen Toussaint, as well as rock groups The Verve and The Police. He married US jazz singer Diana Krall in 2003.
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