Roddy Woomble – Everyday Sun (4 stars)

Roddy Woomble – Everyday Sun

Idlewild frontman's new solo release is solitary, introspective and experimental

With Idlewild service now fully resumed – following the release in 2019 of Interview Music, the group's second album after returning from sabbatical, and ahead of 25th anniversary shows lined up later this year – their lead singer Roddy Woomble's personal recorded output appears to be in a wing-spreading phase at the moment. Until now his solo work has largely rested upon his lyrical ability married to an acoustic Scottish folk sound, yet only the former remains on the Everyday Sun EP.

With both guitars, fiddles and stringed instruments largely absent, the presence of Woomble's Idlewild bandmate Andrew Mitchell (aka Andrew Wasylyk, who was Scottish Album of the Year Award-nominated for his excellent The Paralian last year) is a strong indicator of the direction he's chosen here, for those who are familiar with Mitchell's work. The EP was recorded alongside the latter, who served as producer in his Dundee studio, and the title track serves notice on a production style which involves warmly retro electronic keyboard lines and a shuffling drum machine beat.

It's a simple but effective song, with Woomble's sung chorus line piercing through like a summer sunrise amid his sparse, evocative spoken word passages: 'homes are getting emptier / optional spaces / you said there were millionaires everywhere, behind every closed door / I see huge houses with no-one in them' is an eerie enough lyrical scene, without being heard while under coronavirus lockdown. Yet Woomble has inadvertently made just the right music for this grimly unexpected occasion; solitary, introspective, yet deeply invested in keeping touch with its own humanity.

'Context of Midnight' sways amid the ripples of the effects-laden piano leading Woomble's voice through it, nocturnal and steeped in a certain bitterness; 'Straight to Blame' grinds away against a murmuring, almost jazz-flavoured bassline; 'Secret for the Last Time' swims closest to typical Idlewild territory, all bittersweet but open-hearted uplift on the chorus and an ambling country air. 'One Minute Out of the World' shifts in the opposite direction, a bed of bubbling ambient electronica over which Woomble paints dreamlike spoken scenes.

The closing 'RW OC Cuttup' is the most experimental element here, and possibly the most pleasing for those who are buying right into this electronic new direction (and for whom Mitchell/Wasylyk's solo output is among the most interesting work coming out of the Idlewild stable) – a surging, seventeen-minute cut-up of vocals, ambient sound and electronic effects which consumes the listener. It's unclear what form Woomble's planned solo album for 2021 might take, but the Woomble/Mitchell partnership appears to still promise much more by the end of this record.

Out now.

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