Roddy Hart & Lonesome Fire – Swithering
- Brian Donaldson
- 9 November 2016
Pleasing indie-folk-rock from the Scottish singer-songwriter and his buddies
Roddy Hart has certainly been round a musical block or two in his time. Having helped open the Commonwealth Games, performed at the Scottish Parliament's tenth anniversary and been a steady fixture on Craig Ferguson's US chat show, Hart has picked up a galleon of influences during his decade-plus in the music biz. His pleasing brand of indie-folk-rock has resulted in comparisons to everyone from The Killers to the Boss, and in Hart's new collection (emboldened by his Lonesome Fire buddies), a new raft of namechecking appears to be going on.
You might catch glimpses of Arcade Fire, King Creosote and even Talking Heads in among the dozen tracks of Swithering, and while this game of name-that-forebear might get a little tiresome after a while, there are still many delights to be had. 'Berlin' features an inbuilt anthemic drive in a song which may be a paean to the German city or perhaps a homage to Bowie (the song's late gear-change into Win Butler territory might hint at the latter) while the elegantly upbeat 'Violet' could so easily have cropped up on Kenny Anderson's Scotland With Love.
Those tunes' attributes might be clear, but some numbers simply drift off into a wholly unmemorable rock-clichéd mulch ('In the Arms of California', 'Dreamy You Were Mine' and 'Strange Addictions' being the most obvious perpetrators) and insipid balladeering ('I Thought I Could Change Your Mind'), ultimately preventing the album from sustaining a consistent high.
While Roddy Hart's admirable search for the perfect melody and incessant hook will continue after this record, there's quite likely to be some greatness just around the corner. But whether it can be conjured up while avoiding an over reliance of external forces seems unlikely.
Swithering is out on Fri 25 Nov.