Dominic Waxing Lyrical's third album Rural Tonic comes 21 years after his debut
Strangely alluring chamber pop which doesn't quite meet the heights it promises
After an 18-year wait between Dominic Waxing Lyrical's eponymous debut and 2014's Woodland Casual, thankfully his latest project only took three years to be made and released. Rural Tonic, Dominic Harris' third record under the Waxing Lyrical guise, reunites members of Edinburgh band Aberfeldy and Mr McFall's Chamber Orchestra to create his latest whimsical exploration into the spoken word.
Harris is primarily a poet, and while that is evident in the delivery of his often challenging and metaphorical lyrics, there's a musicality to his cadence and tenor which makes his work strangely alluring. Take lead single 'La Giostra' ('The Carousel'), where a stirring piano line and flourishes of strings add texture to his poetry; it's a chamber pop waltz which typifies Dominic Waxing Lyrical.
Meanwhile, the Aberfeldy half of the album takes on something much more akin to Talking Heads-esque post-punk, such as the excellent 'The Morningside Woodpecker' which features a tightly-knit stop-start rhythm section and more propulsive, direct delivery, making it surprisingly both heavy and playful. Harris' sense of humour keeps Rural Tonic from floating off into a more self-aggrandising work, but it's clear that this record won't be for everyone.
Musically, the collection swings to different extremes, with the two sides (post-punk and chamber orchestra) only occasionally interacting to create a mix of Beatles reminiscence and baroque folk exploration such as on highlight 'Kill Everyone'.
Rural Tonic takes some time to really get going and, while not forgettable (it would be very difficult to forget a project such as this), it doesn't fully hit the heights it promises. At its best, however, Rural Tonic is an intriguing romp.
Dominic Waxing Lyrical is out on Fri 21 Apr on Tenement