Idlewild singer’s cosy, contented second solo effort.
Johnny Sharp 2011-03-11
The adjustment to pipe’n’slippers family life and a settled existence away from the city’s ripped backside can be a damaging one for a successful recording artist. No longer burning with the need to prove yourself or put the world to rights, no longer unhinged by a chaotic rock’n’roll lifestyle nor surrounded by ne’er-do-wells full of wild ideas, you find the music you produce has its edges smoothed off and a good part of its charm neutralised.
But family man syndrome seems to have served Roddy Woomble rather well. Sure, this second solo collection is mellow, folky and acoustic all the way, showing how far he’s come from the urchinous indie-rock his band Idlewild started out playing. But the songs he’s written with new acolyte Sorren Maclean and Idlewild bandmate Rod Jones are more assured than ever.
A New Day Has Begun sets the upbeat, softly celebratory theme. It’s an arms-outstretched sniff of freedom’s sweet air, underpinned by an insistent bass motif and tastefully decorated with mandolin and accordion. The sense of bucolic inner peace is probably no accident – this record was recorded after he and his family moved from Glasgow to the Isle of Mull in 2008. These are understated songs which don’t immediately promise to be lodged in your head for the next six months, but after a few listens the melodies have bedded in nicely and you find yourself playing it on repeat.
Other notable highlights include Work Like You Can, lit up by Jill O'Sullivan’s beautiful swooping backing vocal, which sometimes sounds like an unidentifiable folk instrument in its own right. Elsewhere, Tangled Wire is string-tickling acoustic folk with soul-swelling harmonies, then Leaving Without Gold throws up a windswept whiff of Fleetwood Mac’s seductive MOR. He even gets away with including a sax break as fat as Van Morrison on the boogie-ish Roll Along. And penultimate offering Gather the Day is another jaunty folk-pop tune full of joie de vivre, reinforcing the infectious feeling of a man thoroughly enjoying life and the music he’s making.