What do we know about Roy Moller?
Well, the Lothian-based singer-songwriter has released eight or so solo albums in the past couple of decades after time spent in various Scottish post-punk bands including Meth O.D. and The Wow Cafe.
But when he decided to research his family history – and adoption – he ended up finding enough information to fill a book – also titled ‘Be My Baby’ – with this as its soundtrack.
The album’s dozen tracks bounce between genres – Moller is part of a loose group of connected Scottish east coast musicians based in the east of Scotland, although there are hints of Vic Godard to be heard on the jazzy opener.
There’s a burbling electronic opening to ‘Ward Song’ which gives way to a poppy tune with sweeping strings, while ‘Stacks’ mixes gospel and funk, and there’s an almost reggae-ish offbeat to ‘Zero Contact’.
Song titles are self-explanatory, with the lyrics detailing what their writer has discovered about his mother’s flight from Canada – “Soon I’d show, so off we flew” … “to frosted Scottish streets”. There’s a slightly menacing Leonard Cohen feel to the spoken word of ‘Lost In The Shuffle’, and a wee bit of Edwyn Collins on ‘Wild Goose’.
Moller has in the past released the acclaimed Lou Reed-themed stage play/soundtrack ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, and there’s a hint of the Velvet Underground singer’s vaudevillian solo style here too, while sometime bandmate Davy Henderson’s influence is also apparent on several tracks.
However, influences can work both ways, and given Moller’s collaborations on Stevie Jackson and chums’ earlier albums, it’s no surprise that there’s a Belle and Sebastian vibe to ‘Unravelling’, its euphoric horn sounds hopefully heralding a happy ending to this engrossing tale.
(A version of this review originally appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post).