Dominic Waxing Lyrical -‘Rural Tonic.’ (Tenement Records)
There’s something quite refreshing about the songwriting of Dominic Harris. In as much as anything, it’s the way he thinks and writes out of the box. In a musical world with too many indentikit pop stars,and landfill indie failing to offer the alternative it thinks it does, this is much needed. Following on from 2015’s rather fine Woodland Casual album, here he delivers another collection of off-kilter, quirky but really rather wonderful songs from the Edinburgh man.
It’s a manic – yet an extremely literate album. It’s perhaps a gamble starting the album with ‘King’ – perhaps the most impenetrable song on the album, with its descending chromatic scales played glissando and frankly bonkers lyrics, of which ‘cross my arse with silver! Crown my cock with pearls!’ (sic) are the easiest to understand. Yet while repeated plays over several months haven’t quite revealed what the hell he’s going on about, it does seem to make sense (well, sort of) within the context of the album.
While many singer-songwriters will have a backing band of some description, what adds to the different flavour of this album is that there are, essentially, two. There’s Mr. McFall’s Chamber – who do much of the orchestral parts, and 17 Seconds favourites Aberfeldy. So the former bring alive the likes of ‘King’ and ‘Laika’; the melodic genius of the latter work their magic on tracks like ‘Susan Sontag’ and ‘River Styx.’
The long-defunct Melody Maker magazine described him as ‘DIY-baroque-folk’ which remains spectacularly accurate. A tonic for the troops, then? Indeed, and the rest of us.
Rural Tonic is out now on Tenement Records