thu 03/12/2020

Album of the Year: Roddy Frame - Seven Dials | reviews, news & interviews

Album of the Year: Roddy Frame - Seven Dials

Album of the Year: Roddy Frame - Seven Dials

Former one-man band sings of love, life and death with brilliant bitter-sweetness

Roddy Frame: 'Bury me in Seven Dials so my soul can never find its way'

Far too many years ago, Roddy Frame – masquerading as Aztec Camera – took his first bow with an album of wonderfully vital pop songs. High Land, Hard Rain was jaunty with youth but somehow freighted with musical wisdom, the fruit of ingesting a smorgasbord of influences.

Far too many years ago, Roddy Frame – masquerading as Aztec Camera – took his first bow with an album of wonderfully vital pop songs. High Land, Hard Rain was jaunty with youth but somehow freighted with musical wisdom, the fruit of ingesting a smorgasbord of influences. More than three decades on, the face that stares out of the cover of his fourth solo album - his first since 2006 - wears the marks of middle age, but the thread connecting that first utterance with the voice on Seven Dials is remarkably strong.

What's clear on Seven Dials, which was released in May, is that Frame has lost none of his knack for an anthemic tune. In a more perfect universe he’d have shown Gary Barlow a clean pair of heels with songs like “White Pony”, the opener full of doting advice for someone young and fresh-faced (perhaps his younger self). “Into the Sun” and the joyous “Forty Days of Rain” work the same sort of alchemy. It’s not all high octane and classy fist-pumping. “Postcard”, all yearning sevenths and melodic dying falls, is essence of bitter-sweet Frame; “Rear View Mirror” finds him channelling Bacharach/David/Warwick, while “English Garden” is a moody Lou-like lament which detonates into angry life.

Frame's emotional landscape entwines exquisite melancholy and bright-eyed optimism, though there are now signs that, having turned 50 this year, his gaze has turned towards the awfully big adventure. “Bury me in Seven Dials,” he sings at one point, “so my soul can never find its way”, while “The Other Side” ponders the afterlife. As ever, at the foreground of the rich musical textures is acoustic guitar, above all in the unaccompanied finale “From a Train”, sung to a lost love. By the fourth listen Seven Dials has done what Frame’s best work always does: persuaded its way into your marrow, where it will stay.

By the fourth listen Seven Dials has done what Frame’s best work always does: persuaded its way into your marrow

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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