As William Michael Albert Broad would put it, “It’s hot in the city…tonight”, and there is little doubt that can have an effect on your listening habits. But it’s not all pinky blue skies and sunshine supermen in terms of what’s made the roundup of the best new music from the last month.
There is a reassuring balance between light and shade, which might lead the naive to believe that these roundups were not just thrown together, but were, in fact carefully planned and curated.
First off we have a strong contender for album of the year. Due to such ephemeral matters as questions of personal taste, it may not be your album of the year, but I can guarantee you that when the nights are fair drawing in it will remain one of mine.
Imagine someone writes a collection of poignant and moving songs, then gets some of your favourite singers to sing them, and what you have is the new R.M. Hubbert album Telling The Trees as mentioned in last month’s roundup. For two such records to come along in consecutive months seems like an over withdrawal in the karma bank (we’ll pay, we’ll pay), but that’s what has happened.
Starless, whose self-titled album is out now, is the latest project from ex-Love and Money man Paul McGeechan and has, among others, The Bathers’ Chris Thomson, The Lotus Project’s Marie Claire Lee, Julie Fowlis and Paul Buchanan singing vocals on various tracks, each one of whom are among my favourite singers.
However, the real treat for me is the overdue return of Gwen Stewart, singer in legendary bands such as Wild River Apples and Sugartown, and who is in possession of one of Scotland’s great voices. She sings on the 2.03 minute ‘Yellow Midnight’ and it’s hugely exciting to have her back, if only for a such a short while. With that line-up, Mr McGeechan is spoiling us, and every one should realise it.
I could have written this month’s roundup on Starless alone, breaking it down track by track, but that’s not what we’re here for, and there is other great music on its way. However, I wanted to get across why this album means so much to me and has touched me so profoundly. It’s not just that as a collection it is reminiscent of Craig Armstrong at his very best. It’s not purely because every track is unforgettable but, when taken together, works towards a much greater whole. It’s not as simple as those singers and the songs, even. It’s because this is the sound of my music – it’s in my bones. Always has been, and always will.
Featuring the heavenly voice of the aforementioned Chris Thomson, this is ‘Misty Nights’, and if it makes you feel as it does me, we’re going to get on just fine: