For those of us almost in mourning over the loss of the Delgados in April 2005, a treasured and underrated unique-sounding band, the consolation of an album by Emma Pollock, one of its principal members, has been a very long time coming. The news, shortly after the amicable split, that she had been signed to the highly suitable Four A.D. label was soon followed by radio appearances on which promising new songs such as Paper And Glue and Limbs were performed acoustically with the help of brother-in-law Jamie Savage on second guitar and piano. In Spring 2007 she was back on the radio, still previewing the songs, this time also sharing piano duties with Jamie Savage, as the album, although it had been recorded in the main between March and April 2006 at the new Chem19 Studios in Hamilton and added to in New York later in the year, was still not out.
I'm pleased to report that the delay has been worthwhile as the album cracks and sizzles with confidence and style throughout its forty-three minutes, and reveals to me for the first time just how much of a contribution Emma Pollock must have made to the Delgados. Although it is more stripped back and lacks the big orchestral arrangements of some Delgados records (a cello, played by Alan Barr, escapes onto just one song), in many ways it sounds more like a Delgados record than Universal Audio did: the enchanting vocals that give the songs their soul, at time airy, at others melancholic; the entwining and surprising melodic structures and sounds; and not least the evocative, distinctive and intelligent lyrics.
Of course, former Delgados drummer and husband Paul Savage also contributes to the sound, additionally supplying dulcimer and omnichord. The other musicians on the record apart from Jamie Savage are Campbell McNeil (from Aerogramme) and Graeme Smillie on bass guitars, and the additional guitar of Knox Chandler, added to some of the songs in New York at the suggestion of producer Victor Van Vugt. The album is something of a triumph. Set alight and stand back to enjoy.
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