"I can say that this is a wonderful LP and one to unwind to with a little something in your glass. Near-genius."
Roddy Frame – Western Skies
Oh Roddy, Roddy...
Don't worry, reasonably normal, middle of the road people go all weak-kneed abut Roddy Frame; maybe it's because he's the only true embodiment of pure, unaffected, idealistic pop music since Eddie Cochrane? I don't rightly know, but I could spend this review banging on about how fucking ace Roddy Frame the songwriter is and how timeless his music is. Hell what's the point? I'll try to be brief and say that if you don't have at least some Aztec Camera material or even something like (Edwyn Collins') Hope & Despair, you need to sort it out, fast.
This latest LP presents just R Frame esq. and sparse, mainly accompaniment, which is (I think) in his case an advantage, as it allows his beautiful melodies and clear voice to shine through. And every song, in its own way is a gem, a gem. There are songs such as She Wolf where he allows his country "side" out and there are others such as Marble Arch and where the painful life's problems are chewed over with only a gorgeous melody for company. As ever, there's a moment in every song where your heart skips a beat in recognition of true melodic genius. Tell the Truth has the power to make grown men weep just by linking a turn of phrase with a turn of melody. Take this for a verse, bloody hell... it's almost Sir Walter Scott in its lyricism. How on earth do you write something as archaic and goddam noble as this whilst not stumbling through inadequate mushy sixth-form prose?
"But a word that's given free with true intention/And nourished in the feelings of a friend/Can be stirred and turned by reason and cruel invention/Into a lie that his whole heart would defend."
Elsewhere, Frame's gift for maximum effect gained from (apparently) minimum effort given is seen to full effect and texture opener Western Skies; a lovely swirl of a melody offset by a haunting melodica. The Coast is an acoustic plea full of bravura and emotion; what is more given a by some very warm guitar textures. Rock God reminds me of his efforts on Hope & Despair; the guitar solo really enriching proceedings mid-track.
Frame's music, it must be said, isn't all about wide-eyed innocence. Day of Reckoning and Portastudio for instance, pay effective dues to his experiences in the music bizz. His observatory qualities are as sharp as ever; the lyrics in Shore Song is a beautiful indication of this talent to create a striking emotional observation out of an isolated image; "Screaming on the shore/Daring the waves to wipe us out/Off the sand, the sinking sun in your hand/like we rule the waves"...
What more can I say?
Well I can say that this is a wonderful LP and one to unwind to with a little something in your glass. Near-genius.
Words: Richard Foster.