on 9 May 2014
Let's face it, Roddy Frame is hardly prolific is he? But you have to hand it to him - his quality control is phenomenal.
I pre-ordered my copy of Seven Dials and while I was at it I booked up for Birmingham Town Hall in December, then settled back to wait.
My first impression of this album was that it had three or four great tracks and the rest somehere between good and ok. But as we all know, there's always more to a Roddy Frame album than you think - and sure enough, by the end of the second listen I had revised my opinion. Bar one slightly (to my ears) clumsy guitar break on "The Other Side", this is a great piece of work.
Roddy has really grown into his voice over the years and pitches his writing perfectly, his melodies are excellent and the lyrics are, of course, always worth listening to.
Highlights are "Postcards" - the mood is all Steely Dan...although I trust that Roddy didn't agonise for nine months over each individual note like Steely Dan would...and "Rear View Mirror" which is jazzy in a wonderful way - rather than a "Losing the will to live" kind of way.
But really - it's all effortlessly great. As always.
Roll on December!!!
on 7 May 2014
Wow, what a return and what an album. The entire album has a richness and warmth to it, with a great mix of upbeat songs and slower paced efforts. The first two tracks on the album, White Pony and Postcard are simply beautiful and get better everytime you listen to them. In particular, postcard which has such a catchy bass to it. Fourty Days of Rain is an addictive listen and the lyrics get you instantly singing along. At the moment my favourite track on the album has to be On the waves which has another very catchy bass sound to it, intermixed with Roddys immaculate guitar playing. The album has such a polished, well produced feel to it and the more you listen the greater depth of sound you hear. Cant stop playing it and personally think its the most rounded album since The North Star.
Ex-Aztec Camera songwriter and frontman Roddy Frame's fourth solo album, “Seven Dials” is perhaps as perfect an album any long-term fan could expect from his quietly brilliant musical mind. Having just turned fifty, there is no less of a crisp melodic sheen to his voice than there was thirty years ago and the compositions, well they're the kind of wistful, descriptive, achingly gorgeous songs that Frame has produced over the years and there's a whole album jammed full of them. By the feel of this album, last year's 30th anniversary celebrations of Aztec Camera's fine début, “High Land, Hard Rain” have acted as a catalyst for an album that sounds as wonderfully fresh, optimistic and youthful as his music did three decades ago. Released on co-founder Edwyn Collins' Honest Joe's AED Records and recorded in Collins' West Heath Yard studio, co-producer and engineer Sebastian Lewsley has made these songs sound as magnificent as they deserve to sound.
Straight away after you press play, there is instant gratification with what can only be described as a classic Roddy Frame big, beautiful ballad in “White Pony”. The first time I heard it, I admit that my eyes misted over and a East Kilbride-sized lump formed in my throat; it's the beginning of something very special. “Postcard” sees Frame in cutting loose with a sunny, shimmering rock song that evokes California, both lyrically and musically, bringing to mind some of the seventies greats, such as Fleetwood Mac and, in one part, The Eagles. There's also a brief, self-effacing Spanish guitar solo aping his eighties style just before the false ending, demonstrating that his sense of humour and fun are well and truly in attendance here. “Into The Sun” is a heart-warming return to the kind of mid-tempo, jangly, melodic, bittersweet ballad that won my heart a few decades ago; the rather sorrowful, heartbroken lyrics providing the delicious counterpoint to the uplifting music.
Part of the reason this album works so beautifully is the pleasing mix of styles; “Seven Dials” has real character to it and takes you on a journey with lots of different textures and emotions. “Rear View Mirror” with its subtle Latin flavour, part-bossa nova, part-jazz, may sound a little ordinary at first, but repeated listens reveal truly lovely lyrics and little percussive flourishes that make the song anything but ordinary. The understated introduction of “In Orbit”, with Roddy's voice ringing out over electric piano and brushed snare gives way to cascading guitar arpeggios and Frame lets his voice just soar over the sublime music until it builds to a fulfilling, emotional climax; it's exhilarating stuff. The ridiculously catchy “Forty Days Of Rain” is a brilliant slice of folk-rock with a chorus hook that makes me overlook its religious overtones. The sublime “English Garden” burns slowly but deeply with longing and regret and the honest melancholy is almost painful to listen to, but it sure is a thing of beauty. There is an unexpected, explosive, rather dramatic postscript to the song which ends the piece on a philosophical, accepting note; it adds a touch of further genius to the song.
There is a touch of classic Crowded House on the excellent “On The Waves”, but perhaps the most breathtaking song on the album is “The Other Side” which sees Roddy writing one of the greatest songs of his career so far; yes, it's up there with the very best of his work and the guitar solo melts me inside like butter over a slow heat. What a song. The album finishes with a simple but delicately beautiful picked guitar folk-ballad “From A Train” and it's yet another heartfelt, honest composition that lesser musicians can only dream of writing and performing the way Frame does. “Seven Dials” is just over thirty-seven minutes of sonic bliss with one magnificent song after another. There have been several high points in Roddy Frame's career, such as the stellar “Surf”, but this album reaches the same spine-tingling peaks and is such a work of astonishing quality that it's difficult to imagine that there will be an album better than this one this year. For Frame fans, myself included, this album is a dream fulfilled. For the uninitiated – if you have a penchant for singer-songwriter albums with plenty of guitars, harmonies, melodies and heartbreak, you may have just found something very special indeed. “Seven Dials” really is the loveliest thing... what a jewel.
on 29 May 2014
"Seven Dials” is the fourth solo-album by Roddy Frame, former front-man of Aztec Camera, one of the better Scottish new wave and pop bands from the 80's, which had international hits like “Oblivious,” “Walk Out To Winter” and “Somewhere In My Heart.” In 1998, Frame released his first solo album, entitled “The North Star.” And now, eight years after the 2006 album “Western Skies,” he returns with “Seven Dials.” Although Frame chooses a contemporary sound on this studio album, there are style elements recognizable from his time with Aztec Camera. So, for those familiar with them, “Seven Dial” may feel familiar, without it being a pastiche of what Frame did in the 1980s.
Opening track “White Pony,” a somewhat Beatles-esc song, has a very delicate acoustic arrangement, underscored by some great piano work. Then we switch to the catchy “Postcard,” which is somewhat reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac. Next up is the upbeat “Into The Sun,” a track that isn’t of any lesser quality than for example the golden-oldie hit “Oblivious,” but just a track arranged with a fresh pop-rock sound. This is followed by the jazzy “Rear View Mirror,” with also some bossa nova-ish backing, and “In Orbit,” which sounded somewhat reminiscent of U2.
Next track, the poppy “Forty Days Of Rain,” is one of my favorites, a very catchy, folk rock-tinged tune on which I especially liked the harmonica part. No wonder this was released as a single. Next up is the somewhat drawling “English Garden,” a very melancholy track with poetic lyrics like: “I was on the corner on borrowed time, Waiting for the ghosts inside me to be exercised.” This is followed by “On The Wave,” before we segue into beautiful ballad “The Other Side,” and close the album with another favorite track, the acoustic “From A Train,” with some hauntingly acoustic guitar work.
Remarkably, his voice still sounds almost the same as thirty years ago, nor has he lost his knack for a catchy tune or a memorable, soaring chorus. And although Roddy does not truly surprise us with these tracks, with “Seven Dials” we’ve still got a collection of ten very solid songs. A beautifully understated record, but with lots of stylistic high points. So to sum it up: this is a very enjoyable album by a great singer-songwriter, one which I would recommend to any lover of good music.
"Seven Dials" marks the return of a true national treasure. Roddy Frame's past album "Surf" should pay rates in this property it spends that much time on the turnable. It is good to discover that with the the release of "Seven Dials" the great man has produced a sterling new album. Whilst its a more varied affair than the acoustic melancholy of "Surf" the consistency of Frame's songwriting rarely dips on the scales of excellence. This new record is the usual mix of cracked ballads, songs which sound ok on the first listen but by the third are your latest favourites and that expressive voice that appears to be getting better with age.
Frame previewed the album a few weeks back with the release of the jaunty "Forty Days of Rain" which repays repeated listens. However it is the slower songs here like the reflective opener "White Pony" which is packed with dangerous hints of melody which impress most. Others like "Into the Sun" conquer up languid imagery with Frame pleading the need to "Erase all trace of me until I'm just a piece of paper/I've placed my faith in something/that I cannot believe in any more.". The song "Postcard" has the words "Single" stamped all over it and is lovely piece of sublime pop music full of California imagery. Others to seek on a forensic musical search across these grooves would be the guitar ballad "English Garden". If there is a small criticism to be made on "Seven Dials" it is the fact that were this record to be a football match Frame has an excellent first half but consolidates on the second.
"Seven Dials" is a very welcome return for a singer songwriter who does not get near enough recognition for his huge palette of skills. Frame doesn't "do" bad albums and thus while this is not quite up there with the god like genius of "Surf" it is a blast of Scottish warm rays underpinned by witty one liners and aching melodies.
on 1 January 2016
Proof positive that growing old gracefully is possible.
The best tracks in my estimation are the odd numbered ones. My track list is thus: 1,3,7,9,5.
White Pony is a great opener, the highlight of which is a wonderful Bowie-esque segment:
So go try on the night
The dress, the shoes, the gaze
It's not forever
The arc of who you are
Is the quicksand to the stars
Into The Sun could have been a top 20 hit in the hit parade, if the hit parade these days was not full of such relentless drudgery. Into Orbit builds satisfactorily into a pleasant crescendo that reminds me again of Bowie ('People are stars, they're so beautiful....'). These guys read Colin Wilson books, so such melodrama must come naturally.
English Garden is particularly poignant. The guitar solo phase is understated yet striking all the same, the effect somewhat ghostly or even Peter Green-like. The mood on the whole is undeniably sombre, as exemplified by the L. P. Hartley inspired lyric:
Now in every room a different sorrow hangs
And the past is like another place, it's a foreign land
But memorably the closing coda is distinctly upbeat and operatic (imagine a cross between Thom Yorke and Roy Orbison):
And still the river flows
And the day will still begin
And the flowers bloom in rows
The way it's always been
The Other Side exudes optimism. Moving into its second section it transmogrifies, aesthetically speaking, into Beatles territory, in a very satisfactory manner. Content wise there's the usual prelapsarian claptrap that artistic types specialise in (Once, like a kid I reigned / King of all that I surveyed), and the eccentric notion that there exists some other worldly place where good manners and 'faith' abound, where we realise 'That fear was just another lie.'
From a Train is a low key ending. But a good, solid composition.
on 7 May 2014
I think roddy is one of britains best songwriters every album is class and this new one is his best I think, I can't stop playing it,I hope this gets the sales it so truly deserves 10/10
on 5 May 2014
Gary barlow would chop off his songwriting hands and drink domestos if he fished Roddys Surf out of a bargin bin.Now comes seven dials and I have had it three days and it is amazing.songs of such beauty and simplicity buy it and if you don't like it I will give you your money back and then kick you to death.Thank you Rodney once again
on 22 May 2014
Roddy Frame has always been a class act. Ok so i'm a fan since Aztec Camera days but i defy any real music fan to deny that his songwriting talents are not worthy of much greater commercial success but maybe that would spoil it for the rest of us! This latest album again contains tunes and melodies that grow on you with every listen. If you like beautifully crafted songs buy it now!
on 23 May 2014
As a fan of Roddy I knew what to expect,tuneful music,perfect lyrics and great production and that's exactly what this album gives,so any non fan give this a whirl you won't be disappointed,any fans out there will already have a copy,thanks Roddy for brightening up my life.