Idlewild are well known for their musical journey and evolvement, from the loud abrasive punk rock of their early records to the country and folk leanings of their last offering - 2005's 'Warnings/Promises' (which saw them headline the second stage at the Cambridge Folk Festival). Always very vocal about his love of traditional Scottish folk music as well as groups such as Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, Roddy has decided to take time out from Idlewild to collaborate on an albums worth of songs that take these influences and mix them with Idlewilds trademark soaring melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Five of the eleven songs that make up 'My Secret is my Silence' were written with Roddy's Idlewild band mate and co-songwriter, guitarist ROD JONES, two with the album's producer (and BBC radio 2 folk musician of the year 2003) JOHN McCUSKER, two with childhood friend and singer in Glasgow's alternative folk band Foxface, MICHAEL ANGUS and one with acclaimed borders based folk singer KARINE POLWART: "These are songs that would have never lived with Idlewild, but are still very much a part of me. Being able to write with Rod, and John and Karine and Michael made me feel (for two weeks) like I was part of a new band, and this allowed me to feel free to describe myself in a way I've wanted to for a long time, in a context I was completely comfortable with, and I think it shows" The album, recorded in South Yorkshire over nine days in March 2006, features a band made up of all the songwriters, as well as drummer DAVID GOW and bassist AILIDH LENNON (who is also Roddy's wife) from the Scottish band SONS AND DAUGHTERS. As well as appearances from some of folk music's most accomplished players, flautist MICHAEL McGOLDRICK, accordionist ANDY CUTTING and guitarist IAN CARR and popular folk singers KATE RUSBY and DAVE BURLAND.
When Idlewild lead singer Roddy Woomble turned up on Kate Rusby's last album, his low tones jarred with her sweet singing, so it comes as a surprise to find that when it's Kate supplying the harmonies, it works brilliantly.
With due respect to Woomble's songwriting, it's the harmonies of Rusby, along with the production and violin of her husband John McCusker, that make the solid bed to build his beautiful songs on.
That said, it's a close call whether the epic "Waverley Steps", sung with Rusby, or the heart-bursting title track, which sees the fantastic Karine Polwart on harmony duties, is the real show-stealer.
Tender and epic, enormous yet touching, Woomble's secret may not be his silence, but the brilliance of his musical friends. --Chris Long
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