Doghouse Roses share their name with Steve Earle’s collection of stories, based in Glasgow, guitarist Paul Tasker and singer Iona MacDonald have been a duo since 2005, were once part of the touring line-up for Willard Grant Conspiracy and released their debut album back in 2008. Lost is Not Losing is their third, six years and two EPs on from This Broken Key, and has been well worth the lengthy wait. Sharing the writing credits, they journey through night time city streets and dingy bars, MacDonald kicking things off with the slow waltzing bluesy Pour (one of three from the recent EP of the same title) with its theme about the numbing effects of alcohol (“pour me another, that’s what he said, coz I’d rather be drunk, or I’d rather be dead. Pour me another to chase you away”), Tasker demonstrating why his fretwork has been compared to the likes of Jansch and Thompson
It’s one of his numbers that follows, featuring just MacDonald’s voice and Tasker’s fingerpicking To Decide has more of a folk rock inclination (although the opening guitar line is pure Arthur Lee), followed by the second of MacDonald’s four contributions, Feed The Monster, a number about global avarice and how it flourishes in an atmosphere of indifference. It’s one of three directly political numbers, the others being Tasker’s fingerpicked environment-themed post-apocalypse vision of After The Sun and, continuing the gloomy forecast, the deceptively jaunty old time feel of New Year Rag.
On a more general political note, MacDonald’s more optimistic Weather The Storm is a uptempo rock forged number about how society will one day not be controlled by the powerful few, a fiery guitar solo from Jon Alexander driving things along while drummer Craig Lurie and bassist Steph McGourty hold down the rhythm. Iona’s final writing contribution sees her heading into country-tinged folk rock territory with bittersweet prostitute tale Fairground, Jez Hellard adding bluesy harmonica to a melody that puts me in mind of Red Shoes.
Tasker provides the other numbers, The Whistle Song a lively strummed folksy lilt with Laura-Beth Salter (The Shee) on mandolin and Crooked Life another uptempo folk-rock jogger, here served in a cocktail of Stevie Nicks and Sandy Denny. Things get more Americana for Diesel Engine, a train rhythm chugging roll-along blues that originally appeared on the 2009 EP Folk & Blues Part 2, with Dejan Lapanja handling lead guitar duties before the album ends on the 60s folk feel of the circling fingerpicked Days Of Grass And Sun with Tasker harmonising on the chorus refrain. Quite simply, their best work yet.
Out Now on on Yellowroom Records
On Tour in Germany in December and UK dates in January 2017. Details here: doghouseroses.net/live