Andrew Wasylyk: Soroky (3 stars)

Andrew Wasylyk: Soroky

Debut solo album displays Wasylyk’s versatility

Scottish singer and musician Andrew Mitchell is something of a renaissance man. Perhaps best known as the latest in a long line of bassists to have hit the low notes for Idlewild (he joined in 2014), he also boasts a secondary career as the leader of Dundee indie-pop outfit the Hazey Janes and a tertiary gig as a sessioner for the likes of Electric Soft Parade. This is his debut solo record, and it’s a suitable enough departure from all of the above to help paint a vivid picture of just how versatile a performer he is.

He’s taken his pseudonymous surname from that of his uncle Iwan Wasylyk and the title of the record from the name of the Ukrainian village in which that grandfather grew up. It’s not a surprising association, because somewhere in the fusion of sounds Mitchell makes there’s a certain Doctor Zhivagoness, an air of Eastern European romance and melancholy. And there’s much more besides; hints of Magnetic Fields, echoes of Scott Walker, a strong sense of both Mercury Rev and Aztec Camera.

There’s also, apologies if it seems glib to suggest, a bit of Alison Moyet in those vocals; a femininity and a rich bassy tone all at once. ‘What of the wonderful world / what of the dreams that we had?’ he asks in a pained, swooning voice over the opener ‘Last of the Loved’, its tense piano and rising strings reminiscent of the saddest Bond theme ever. There’s a folksy Harry Nilsson meets Edwyn Collins sense to ‘The Esplanade’, and a general feeling of psychogeographic nostalgia to the record, as if singing of places experienced and missed; in the mournful croon of ‘The Park Hotel’, for example, or his urgent tribute to Mull’s ‘Calgary Bay’.

The Scots poet ‘Robert Garrioch’ is paid tribute to in one instrumental, while ‘The More I Believe, The Less I Know’ is the closest the album comes to a masterpiece. In total it’s something less than the sum of its constituent influences, but for the sureness of its vision and the confidence of its execution, it’s an early effort which is well worthy of recommendation.

Soroky by Andrew Wasylyk is released Fri 6 Nov on Empty Words.

Andrew Wasylyk

Blend of Baroque pop and nostalgia from Andrew Wasylyk, who has previously worked with Idlewild and the Hazey Janes, and toured with Wilco and Electric Soft Parade. He's touring latest album Soroky, named after the town in Western Ukraine in which his grandfather grew up.

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