Lost Is Not Losing came to me for review – I think you might like this, was the suggestion. For the past week it has been on continual play in my car.
Doghouse Roses are from Glasgow, a duo comprising Iona Macdonald and Paul Tasker who have written the songs on the album. Macdonald has a gloriously clear voice. Lost Is Not Losing is the duo’s third album but if, like me, you’ve not previously come across Doghouse Roses, then Macdonald’s voice has been likened to Sandy Denny. The album opens with ‘Pour’ “Pour me another, that’s what he said / For I’d rather be drunk or I’d rather be dead” and you are taken straight into a tangled tale of love and alcoholism. Tasker’s finger picking is equally a delight and the second track ‘To Decide’ gives you half a minute of Tasker playing alone in the introduction.
By now I was hooked. ‘Feed the Monster’, ‘New Year Rag’ and ‘After Sun’ are overtly political “Build an ivory tower for the worship of the few/ Trust them with your life like they’d do the same for you/Wasn’t it easier just to lose/Feed the monster, make it stronger”. Macdonald has said that politics isn’t about detached politicians. It’s about how we choose to live our lives every day and how we choose to treat the people and the world around us and these songs have a subtlety sometimes missing in protest songs.
On a number of tracks the duo are supported by Craig Laurie on drums and Stephen McGourty on bass and the album moves easily between the acoustic duo and the wider band songs: ‘Diesel Engine’ – where there is a guest co-lead vocal from Biff Smith of New International and lead guitar from Slovenian virtuoso Dejan Lapanja, ‘Weather the Storm’ and ‘Crooked Life’.
If you want an introduction to the duo, though, have a listen to ‘Fairground’, the ballad of a former prostitute told through the complex emotions of the lyric set against a lively melody and Jez Hellard’s harmonica.
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Artist’s website: www.doghouseroses.net
Doghouse Roses talk about themselves and Lost Is Not Losing: