The erstwhile Idlewild-er has proved over a series of albums, with band, solo and in consort with others, to have a consummate gift for a tune. The melodies seem to trip so easily that it’s sometimes we take them for granted. But that’s a mistake, as there’s so much more to Listen To Keep, even if it has a slowly-quietly way of sneaking up on you. A few listens in, you start to feel it’s gravitas, latching onto lines like, “Even the luckiest guy in the world, sooner or later he’ll be dust and bones.” It’s no maudlin weight of the world, however, but that’s life and death, nature if you will. So, enjoy it, kick back and take a load off.
The music too is alive with the subtle embellishments that nag away, so the undertow of the lap steel on the opener Making Myths starts to pull you into swirling emotional waters. A musical tension traverses the Atlantic, with the more American influences bubbling away with equal measures of folk and the obvious influences of Mull, where Woomble has made his home. One minute it’s seesawing, hoe-down fiddles of The Last One Of My Kind, the next it’s the brooding harmonium and sweeping orchestration of the title track, to the bluegrass flurry of Trouble Your Door or the clever, lyrical, pop immediacy of Travelling Light and I Know Where I Went Wrong.
The personnel, built around the core of Roddy and chief song-writing collaborator and music foil, Sorren McLean, execute the whole CD with a restraint that adds to the deception of easy does it. Repeated spins, however, result in spontaneously humming or singing along and you start to pick up the musical layers, harmonies and subtle riffs building amidst the spangling guitar arpeggios and urgent acoustic strumming.
Roddy’s voice too seems enriched and whatever the setting has a velvety luxuriance. His lyrics are engaging, promising little pearls of wisdom even if any narrative thread remains elusive. Rather, his words create atmospheres and settings that allow your own thoughts and feelings to take hold. There are, however, many quotable couplets dotted throughout the record, but it’s best that you find your own compass points.
All it takes is a good listen. So, listen once, listen twice, but listen on repeat and listen deep and you’ll Listen To Keep this close to your heart for a long time.
Review by: Simon Holland
Listen to Keep is released on Reveal Records March 4th
Thu, 9th May, Corran Halls, Oban
Fri, 10th May, Oran Mor, Glasgow www.oran-mor.co.uk
Sun, 12th May, Lemon Tree, Aberdeen www.laberdeenboxoffice.com
Mon, 13th May, Shetland Arts, Lerwick, Shetland Isles
Tue, 14th May, Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
Wed, 15th May, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Fri, 17th May, Eastgate Art Centre, Peebles
Sat, 18th May, Tolbooth, Stirling www.stirling.gov.uk/tolbooth
Fri, 7th June, Town Hall, Selby,
Sat, 8th June, Gates To Southwell Festival, Southwell
Recorded Live in Exteter by Deckthree: A New Day Has Begun (from The Impossible Song & Other Songs)