‘The Beggar’ is Robin Adams’ fifth solo album and is an intensely personal one, as it was written during a tumultuous time for the Glaswegian singer-songwriter. Unusually it’s not possible to ‘skip’ to particular tracks on this release, presumably to encourage the album to be listened to as a whole.
Opening song ‘The Rover’ sets the sombre tone that permeates throughout, as Adams sings ‘Black dogs and lonely roads/That’s what the Rover chose.’ Title-track ‘The Beggar’ has a timeless feel to it, as if it was written centuries ago, while ‘In the Darkness’ is both sweetly melodic and world-weary. The album takes a darker turn with ‘Ride On’, which has an ominous, almost spooky quality reminiscent of Adams’ album ‘Wilt’.
The gorgeous ‘Love Like I Should’ is a less gloomy affair (musically at least) and is probably the album’s most accessible track for newcomers to the songwriter. Adams sings ‘Like a stranger that comes/Won’t let me be/Won’t let me out of his sight/Stretches my heart/Fills me with fear/Won’t let me love like I should’ to a soulful, slow-burning melody that builds potency as the song progresses. ‘No More’ is heart wrenching in its soul-bearing honesty, while ‘Blind Summit’ is a spiritual and transcendent closer.
‘The Beggar’ is a powerful piece of work, and while it may not be Adams’ most immediately accessible release (‘Be Gone’ would take that title) it is probably his best. The depth and resonance of these songs can’t be denied and each one compliments the others beautifully. It may be melancholic but there is a life-affirming catharsis to this album, which will leave a deep impression on anyone who listens.
Robin Adams plays Glasgow’s Poetry Club on April 24.