Some weeks you just don’t get very far on the “to do” list, last week was one of them. Last Sunday I popped along to Mono for the launch gig of this mini album and picked up a copy with the intention of giving the album a review. Typically for me, it’s a bit later than planned. The launch gig was good, but unfortunately a heated argument between the DJs on duty midway through Burnt Island’s set was quite a distraction that made it hard to give the band the attention they deserved. Fortunately no one is yelling at anyone during the CD, so listening properly is an awful lot easier, and very worthwhile.
Burnt Island’s frontman Rodge Glass is one of those disgustingly talented people. Having gained attention as a novelist Rodge also has a critically acclaimed biography of Alasdair Gray under his belt. As if that wasn’t enough he is currently Writer in Residence at Strathclyde University, where he also teaches Creative Writing. Then there’s the song that Rodge wrote for Vashti Bunyan that appeared on Ballads of the Book, and now – after a few years of work – comes the Burnt Island mini-album.
Before I make Burnt Island sound like a one man show I should also mention that they are very much a band, with Andy Campbell, Amber Comerford, Rik Evans and Malcolm Jack all making contributions that are far from insignificant.
As for the album itself, as you might expect the lyrics are excellent, more short stories than disposable pop songs, and the music is frequently gorgeous. The songs are subtle and understated, with an air of melancholy. I’m a sucker for a harmony, which is why the stand out tracks for me are the ones where Glass and Amber Comerford share vocals – Man on Fire and the title track in particular- her voice and his work fantastically together. The other songs are every bit as well written, crafted and performed.
The only downside is that at 6 tracks long I’m eager for more, but that’s far from a complaint.