Glasgow’s Doghouse Roses once more present their unique take on contemporary folk and reaffirm that they are “Something a little bit special” (The List) with the release of their long-awaited third studio album Lost Is Not Losing.
In 2014, an invitation to open for Television brought the pairing back to the stage for the first time in almost two years. Inevitably, this lead to the realisation that both had been unintentionally writing songs destined for the duo. Once seasoned with the progressive fingerpicking of Paul Tasker’s guitar and the impelling vocal delivery of Iona Macdonald, recording became the next step. Whilst the almost constant comparisons to Sandy Denny and Bert Jansch might leave some to expect yet another attempt at reviving the folk revival of the 1960’s, the colours on display here are contemporary reflections.
‘Pour’, is a defiant and quirky opening track, telling a tangled tale of love and alcoholism, brought to life by Craig Laurie on drums and Stephen McGourty on bass. ‘Feed the Monster’, ‘New Year Rag’ and ‘After Sun’ are overtly political, but without the oft dictatorial edge of protest songs. “Life is political”, according to Iona. “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. It’s about the questions we ask.”
The band shifts into classic country territory for the leaving song, ‘Diesel Engine’ complete with guest co-lead vocal from Biff Smith of A New International and stinging lead guitar from Slovenian virtuoso Dejan Lapanja. Backing vocals are provided by Jo Shaw and Katie Macarthur, who also perfectly complements Iona Macdonald’s voice by providing harmonies on the ballad of a former prostitute, ‘Fairground’. John Alexander adds acoustic guitar to ‘ To Decide’ and ‘Days of Grass and Sun’, and the album is fully realised by Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Jez Hellard on harmonica.
There is often dark humour and a rich seam of inspiration to be found when life leads you off the beaten track, through the dark cities and scattered bars of ‘Lost Is Not Losing’. For an album that is borne from tales of the road, it is only fitting that Tasker and Macdonald take the songs back to their breeding ground as they embark on a German tour in the winter, with UK dates to follow in April 2017
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‘I’m Gonna Drink’ – official video: