Out Lines – Conflats (4 stars)

Out Lines – Conflats

Debut release from Kathryn Joseph, James Graham and Marcus Mackay project band

At only seven tracks, and bearing a similarly sombre tone throughout, thanks to the continuing presence of a mournful accordion and striking vocal performances, Out Lines' debut album feels more like an extended EP. Yet the abilities at the heart of the record and the biographies of the people behind it are so perfectly matched that it's hard to escape the sense that this is one of the tentpole records to come out of Scotland this year.

Out Lines are a trio, although the keys points of focus are the voices at the heart of the project, and they're what elevate it to something worthy of wider attention. The singers in question are Kathryn Joseph, past winner of the Scottish Album of the Year Award, and James Graham, lead singer of The Twilight Sad, and there are parallels to be drawn between both as artists who only came to real success and recognition later in life.

Together they sound so evenly matched, with Graham possessing a dry, folksy tone and Joseph bearing a distinctive, prickly voice; it feels lazy to compare it to Kate Bush, because she's the acme of female vocal references, but it's true. The pair's voices possess the kind of richness which only age and experience can bring. The trio is rounded off by producer Marcus Mackay, former member of The Reindeer Section and owner of the Diving Bell Lounge recording studio and Hits the Fan Records, who discovered Joseph and Frightened Rabbit.

Under his ear, the album gathers a kind of rootsy post-rock sensibility, with droning accordion and clattering drums combining on 'Our Beloved Dead'; those voices left to lead over a rising acoustic guitar line on 'There is a Saved Place'; and epic, guitar-washed indie balladry emerging on 'Open Shut' and 'These Three Desire Lines'. The permanence of the project is uncertain, but it would be good to hear it taken further in future.

Out Fri 27 Oct.

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