Rick Redbeard is hardly a veteran despite the facial hair, but sounds like he’s been doing this for years. And his songs similarly sound like you’ve heard them before, somewhere. ‘Any Way I Can’ is surely a buried lost Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy tune, but with more pop potential, a chorus which would outdo anything that popsters like David Gray (seriously) would kill for. He even silences the crowd with an a cappella number at the end, and hauls on his sister to augment his fragile tunes with some easy-on-the-ear harmonies. BUt such is the immediacy of the songs that we need to confirm that he’s not played any Phantom Band songs his ‘day job’ is PB vocalist). He didn’t.
In the week that ‘his’ charges De Rosa announced that they’d split, former Delgado Alun Woodward released his solo album, under the Lord Cut-Glass monicker. You could be forgiven for thinking that as one Chemikal Underground act bites the dust another rises, but in fact – perhaps as well – the two acts are very different animals. De Rosa’s alt.folk, which we assume will continue as Martin J Henry solo material, shares little with Woodward’s, frankly, uncategorisable songwriting. The opener single ‘Be Good To Your Wife’ is a jaunty cheery tune far removed from the urban decay often portrayed by De Rosa and while Woodward can be as obtuse and abstract as, well, any act on Chemikal (ok, apart from the more ‘direct’ Arab Strap), his songs are peppered with optimism – whether it’s in the lyrics, or more often, in the grand, sweeping arrangements. These are provided bu a mini-orchestra which contains former Delgado Paul Savage, his multi-talented brother Jamie, as well as cellist Dave Barr and assorted hired hands.
The set swings from spaghetti western (‘You Know’) to fairground waltz ‘Toot Toot’ and marks Woodward out as a songwriter of estimable worth, showing that both he and Emma Pollock (whose debut solo album was magnificent) were equally responsible for the Delgados’ reputation as songwriting. Woodward’s tunes perhaps evoke most the Divine Comedy particularly on the epic ‘Jesus Couldn’t Love You’ (not only for its galloping on-horseback rhythm) and whistleable and eminently likeable pop in closer ‘Big Time Teddy’. It’s must-see, must-hear stuff, and like the Delgados (and De Rosa come to that) we hope that Lord Cut-Glass transcends the inevitable critics’ choice and reaches the audience that songwriting of this quality deserves.