Glasgow’s Doghouse Roses’ album We Are Made Of Light oozes Americana, but it still lingers with the taste of a great Old Chub Scottish ale.
‘All My Days’ rides on a simple guitar as Iona Macdonald’s voice echoes the beauty and swaddling cloth comfort of Linda Thompson and Natalie Merchant. The tune gently strolls a tightrope for a while, and then makes a soft landing on just about any moon. It’s a lovely lullaby of a song.
Paul Tasker enters with harmony vocals and an always clever guitar. The up-tempo ‘Arsenic’ adds that deeper dimension. Oh—a banjo plucks the melody of ‘Elegy For A Seaside Town’ while the voices harmonize an irresistible chorus. This is just simple charm.
Things stay with an acoustic vibe. Of course, ‘The Fermi Paradox’ gazes at the stars in our Milky Way. As Hamlet sort of asked, “To be, or not to be (an Extra-Terrestrial), that is the question”. This tune is downhome perfection with banjo and Neil Allan’s percussion. And then, the song (with an effortless blues stride) morphs into Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ from their brilliant Then Play On album. And it’s a really nice musical dance step that ties this record to all the great British and Scottish players who have revered American roots. The Beatles mirrored Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and The Everly Brothers. And then greats like John Martyn, Michael Chapman, Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell, and John Renbourn all touched folky blues. Really, We Are Made Of Light just foxtrots next to The Pentangle’s Reflection.
Then ‘Low’ recalls the folk yearning of Richard and Linda Thompson in their Bright Lights heyday. That’s great company to keep.
Now, ‘First Of April’ bleeds with acoustic soul. Iona’s vocals step gently between graveyard memories. And Paul’s acoustic guitar etches names on those stones. Ditto for “One More For The Road’, with is four-square acoustic tip in any waitress’ good mid-America service jar. Odd, in Scotland’s North Berwick, I once ordered an egg role, thinking the obvious Chinese take-a-way, but was served an egg between two buns. It was a lovely meal. This record is something like that: It’s an unsuspected bonny lunch.
The album’s plot thickens with the final songs. ‘The Reckoning’ is epic stuff with an urgent vocal, dramatic percussion, a webbed acoustic guitar, and dynamic strings. The song really does cut through menacing clouds. But, thankfully, ‘Rise & Fall’ floats with a quiet reprieve just before the storm. Ah, but ‘Why We Fight’ makes that rain fall. And it falls with a heavy melodic deluge, with the violin sawing through the dense damp air. Then, thankfully, ‘Years’ is a reprieve. It’s a life jacket. It’s a buoyant and melodic finale (with sweeping violin) of a quick acoustic moment caught in a sepia melody.
Doghouse Roses, all the way from Glasgow, have touched the music of the great American Redwood trees, and just like those trees who tangle their roots, this music fuses two traditions, with simple melodies, homey instruments, blest vocals, and the shared taste of that (American-brewed and my favorite) Old Chub Scottish ale.
Artists’ website: http://doghouseroses.net/
Doghouse Roses are keeping their new songs close to their chests so here’s an oldie, ‘Diesel Engine’:
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