Michael Marra on new Roddy Womble Album Thursday January 13 2011, 12:00 AM
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Michael Marra on new Roddy Womble Album

Roddy Woomble releases his long awaited second album’ The Impossible Song & Other Songs’ on March 21st. Recorded at his local arts centre, An Tobar in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, ‘The Impossible Song & Other Songs’ follows his acclaimed solo debut ‘My Secret Is My Silence’ (2006).

Roddy began writing & demoing the songs that appear on ‘The Impossible Song & Other Songs’ at An Tobar with local guitarist and singer Sorren MacLean in January 2010. Then in the summer of 2010, Dublin bassist Gavin Fox (a member of Idlewild from 2003-2005) and Glaswegian drummer and singer Gregor Donaldson (from the band Sparrow & The Workshop) arrived in Mull and with Sorren & Roddy, the four piece recorded the bulk of the album.

As Roddy explains, “The nature of An Tobar, being a working centre for the arts on the island including a gallery, café and performance space meant that there were always interesting people around and musicians coming to the venue to play concerts. We made the most of this. Gordon MacLean, An Tobar’s artistic director and the album’s engineer, would set up a few microphones after a performer’s sound check, or even after their gig, let them hear the song a few times and then record a contribution”

As a result the album includes a magical mix of musical contributions from jazz pianist Chick Lyall, saxophonist Rob Hall, fiddler Aidian O’Rourke (Lau), accordion legend Phil Cunningham and famed Dundonian songwriter Michael Marra.

A multi -faceted singer and songwriter, Roddy has a broad palate of styles & influences and so the album moves from folk rock (Work Like You Can); to country (New Frontier); to upbeat horn-led pop (Roll Along); to indie rock (Leaving Without Gold); to the dark, jazzy ‘Between The Old Moon’, all held together by his soft Scottish baritone and thoughtful, often mysterious lyrics.

Lyrically the album touches on themes that have often cropped up in Roddy’s work - the troubled alliance between Nature and Man, the onset of modernization and the end of old ways, what it means and what is worth giving up in order to achieve it.

Roddy says of his lyrics, “Song lyrics have a unique ability to blend magical elements into a realistic setting. It’s not a requirement to me that they make sense - the music can give them their meaning. Books I go back to again and again - Lewis Grassic Gibbon ‘Sunset Song’, Knut Hamsun ‘Growth Of The Soil’, Halldor Laxness ‘Independent People’. Stories that manage to be both epic in scale and yet intimate in their humanity, the way that any good song can be. I think this is as strong a collection of songs that I’ve ever put my name to and I’m proud that I managed to write and record them in such a collaborative and resourceful way. The record, in many ways, is a scrapbook of six months at An Tobar, with me in the centre”

Roddy spent fifteen years releasing albums and touring worldwide with Idlewild and the band are now on hiatus. He is fast gaining a reputation as a solo artist in his own right and as part of the trio ‘Drever, McCusker & Woomble’ (with guitarist Kris Drever and multi-instrumentalist John McCusker) having released their acclaimed album ‘Before The Ruin’ in 2008.