In earlier releases the band have existed of a sort, providing musicianship and backing in both the studio and on stage to the songs Roddy has written. As discussed when we interviewed him, this album is the start of a new songwriting partnership which has reaped a truly impressive first harvest.
The difference in this album from earlier solo Roddy Hart material is immediately noticeable. This self-titled release is more grandiose and cinematic in feel. The fuller sound — of a band who have found their spark — carries from ‘Days Are Numbered’ throughout the album providing a more mature groundwork for the songs to stand to their potential than anything before.
Whilst ‘Cold City Avalanche’, ‘Bright Light Fever’ and ‘Queenstown’ are energetic, offering some musical highlights throughout it is when we get to ‘Bad Blood’ (the story of falling in love with another man’s woman) that the signalling of the coming storm is expressed in the music to great effect, sharing the urgency of the lyrics. The partnership in arranging these songs just works in these faster songs, but equally well in the slower moments.
Today my favourite track is ‘Forget Me Not’. The piano driven mid-paced ballad is sublime. The lyrics share a story which anyone who has ever been in love and lost can relate. The aching vocals are propped up by a band who take the song on a crashing journey as their (in places frenetic) playing echoes the pain of the story.
I am not really a lyric person, and have often approached lyrics as the thing you sing along to whilst listening to the music. For the lyrics on this album to hit home is something which is not my norm. The themes that play through the album seem so very personal and yet never leave you feeling like you are prying, more “you know just how it feels”. This is a stellar trick, one which makes you pull the songs closer to you with each listen.
As a fan of Roddy Hart’s albums for some years, it is this statement of intent, the taking of Roddy’s songs in a direction which (similarly only the E Street Band and Heartbreakers can add to Springsteen and Petty) provides an exciting future for the Lonesome Fire collaboration. A future which needs to allowed to continue and grow.