Saturday, 14 May 2011

Review: Roddy Woomble - The Impossible Song And Other Songs

For those who don't know, Roddy Woomble is the singer in British indie-rock greats Idlewild. As the band's sound has gradually moved from thrash grunge to acoustic warmth, Woomble's solo material has reached even more folkier climates. This record is a cozy collection of songs, driven by collaborations with folk musicians from Woomble's new home of Mull. Opening track 'A New Day Has Begun' sounds exactly as the title would suggest, full of promise and a melody that would perfectly soundtrack an early morning sunrise. 'Make something Out Of What It's Worth' is just as pretty, finely picked acoustic guitar, warm piano and calming brushy percussion, while 'Work Like You Can' is probably the coziest song ever to feature lyrics about  "the smell of the earth worn into our hands". 'Tangled Wire' has a sad, understated beauty while the toe-tapping single 'Roll Along' almost echoes the Levellers with its jaunty rhythm and raises a surprise with the unusual sax hook. It is also very catchy after a few listens. Meanwhile, 'Hour After Hour' has a hypnotic intro and a chorus that almost wanders into ambient trance territory, strange as that may sound for a Scottish folk album.

 Along with the first two tracks and the single, 'Leaving Without Gold' is one of the strongest tracks here and is the one that most recalls Idlewild, with a jangly yet mysterious sound that echoes The Smiths. It's also possibly the only appearance of an electric guitar on this record. 'New Frontier' again has a warm, almost lounge-jazz production and is the perfect vehicle for Woomble's warm Scottish tones, and 'Living As You Always Have' is another humble reflective moment. 'Gather The Day' would make a good single, a strong melody and an uplifting chorus that would make a much better close to the album than the rather limp 'Between the Old Moon'.

'The Impossible Song And Other Songs' is by no means perfect, in fact at times it can be a bit too comfortable and is possibly a couple of tracks too long. But give most of these songs a chance and they will open themselves up and become well loved. 8/10

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