Footballer, wine connoisseur and the man who lets his subconscious speak for him, Eric Cantona is a legend. More to Manchester United fans and Ken Loach appreciators than anyone else, but even more to himself. It is likely the reason he has pursued a music career, stoking the flames with single The Friends We Lost. Adrift in what appears to be his own pool, taking stock of some presumed sage advice from Liam Gallagher, the United legend and everyman turns his attention to song. His crack at a tune is not half bad, an admirable effort for a man on the fringes of a career choice that will see him dabble but no more than this. An album, maybe. But a tour? No chance. Enjoy The Friends We Lost for the surprisingly earnest and touching effort it is.
This touching effort is being showcased live. Not on tour, of course not, but the passion project that moulds the work of The Friends We Lost is exceedingly obvious. A shockingly crisp and deep voice brings out the best in Cantona and his efforts through The Friends We Lost. Guided by the isolated piano keys and soon reliant on the tone the former Leeds United footballer brings to the pace of this music, a tender plea is the destination. His goal in listening to the silence, as Cantona so aptly puts it, is to provide a tribute to those eponymous friends who departed so soon. Although the strings and thunderous guitar leave something to be desired, the piano and vocal pairing is more than enough to see through a startling debut.
Too reliant it may be on those pockets of instrumentals, there is sincerity at the core of this and a writing stroke that clutches at truly intense and earnest moments. Cantona is in a reflective state, the black and white music video in the isolated arena is no surprise to this message, the imagery locks it in place. Where the mixing may be patchy toward the end and the thudding pace takes a chunk out of it, there is more than enough to feel warmed by. The Friends We Lost is, at times, a tremendous lament which clocks in and out without much fanfare. Stick around for those twinkling piano notes, they are worth the listen.
But what else is with The Friends We Lost? The initial shock value of hearing Cantona croon through a tender song of grief comes not from the lyrics but from the abilities of a man who has made his mark elsewhere. Should it be any surprise his larger-than-life personality eventually drifted to high-strung materials in the musical arena? Probably not, and though nobody is going to feel inspired or better for having listened to the efforts of Eric the Red, it is a fascinating little pocket of sincerity. A pub quiz tiebreaker in the making. Which Manchester United footballer penned a piece on the grief and solemnity that takes place as he careers towards his 60s? Not Steve Bruce, no, Cantona. Only he can get away with The Friends We Lost and whatever else follows.