Randolph’s Leap – Worryingly Okay
Lost Map Records – 25 May 2018
Randolph’s Leap‘s ‘Worryingly Okay’ ia an almost wholly solo effort by Glasgow-based Scottish singer-songwriter Adam Ross, this is his third full-length album, a suitably skewiff bare bone alt-folk set of songs about friendship, love, Scottish islands and politics. It opens in a downbeat mood with the oldest song, Hide A Thing, a musically lugubrious number about a guy who spends his days cruising seaside coffee shops in an attempt to recapture childhood holiday memories but gradually sinking into a morass of loneliness and alcoholism.
It doesn’t get much cheerier on the lo fi slow-paced Hoping To See, a number he describes as vaguely 70s country rock that tells a tale of infidelity and sports a rather effective harmonica solo as well as ending with a woozily repeated, piano-backed chorus. He then gets romantic with Electricity, a love song written for his wife with the proudly accented vocals buoyed along by burbling wah wah effects electronica and building to a wash of soulful piano and electric guitar solo.
Riding a folksy strummed acoustic guitar partly augmented by keys and electric picking and clopping percussion, Geopolitical Blues does its bit for gun control social commentary and is one of the album’s catchiest wonky melodies. No less so is the twin acoustic guitars strums of the rather lovely, falsetto-voiced Take The Long Way Home, the simple, airy Celtic cadence of its cascading chords perfectly echoing how it came together during a hillside ramble.
Opening on a backwards loop and with vocals and acoustic guitar given a reverb treatment, Unravelled, the lyrics of which refer to the sustaining nature of country walks in the wake of an emotional loss, is another moment of uncluttered simplicity that feels like a very distant cousin to Radiohead’s No Surprises.
Ross’s tongue is somewhat in cheek when he describes Lungs as rock n roll, but it is one of the livelier tempo tracks, a rolling, softly dappled drum beat, circling guitar pattern and piano carrying along a number inspired by hearing some politician wittering on without ever committing to a point, not that the refrain “it’s a long walk home from this” has anything to do with this, though there is a nice playful metaphorical line about ripping your dreams jumping the fence.
Underpinned by a snare drum rhythm set to a brisk walking pace and featuring an endearingly clumsy guitar solo, Kitchen Clean is another friskily-paced, romantically melancholic affair the vocals calling to mind a Scottish Robin Gibb. Inspired by a week spent on the island, Mull is a somewhat dreamy lo fi amble, musically and lyrically, with a fair amount of la la laing, some brief forays into discordance and, for trivia fans, a reference to the true story of how a pair of newlyweds were killed when a storm dislodged a massive boulder that crushed the cottage in which they were honeymooning.
It ends on an introspective note with the softly sung, simple folk-country strum of Television, a quietly sad “bucketload of fun” about finding solace in despondency by comparing your happiness and mental wellbeing what that of others, answering the question “is it normal to feel like this?” by putting your own feelings of irrelevance and confusion into perspective through shared lives reflected on television.
Unpolished and consciously “full of errors, weird blips, background noise and unwanted frequencies” reflecting what’s going on inside his head, Ross says how he loves listening to music that has the artist’s fingerprints all over it. If you feel the same, like we do, then you should get your grubby hands on this one.
Order via Lost Map Records