AOTW: Roddy Woomble – My Secret Is My Silence

16/08/2010 § 17 Comments

For those who don’t know, Roddy “Improbable Surname” Woomble is the lead singer of Scottish rock band, Idlewild. Bar the odd single (most notably “American English”), their stuff has never really grabbed me, but I think this album is an absolute gem. It’s not clever or flashy – in fact, it’s the complete opposite of flashy: it’s mainly quiet, contemplative, organic-sounding folk-rock. And it’s lovely.

I think what I particularly love about it is the space in each track: musically, but also lyrically. With the help of a talented band (including Kate Rusby and John McCusker), Roddy has created a body of music that just sounds honest and… elemental. He has come up with songs that of course mean something specific as written (the title track clearly concerns his feelings about Scotland) but that, as a listener, you can invest with your own meaning: “My secret is my silence, and my silence is in vain…” I’m betting there’s a fair few people with whom that resonates. It’s all far too oblique to ever get an RR listing (don’t think I’ve ever even spotted a Roddy nom), but all the more reason for bigging the album up here!

I can take or leave the slightly more fiddle-de-dee tracks (eg, the instrumental “Whiskeyface”), but the first five tracks are as strong an opening to an album as I can think of. And the duet with Karine Polwart, “If I could name any name”, is just gorgeous. Not much more to say about it than that, but in a world where Mumford & Sons are massive, surely there’s room for Roddy W to be a bigger solo star than he has been so far…

PS I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this got Spill coverage when it was released back in 2006, but I wasn’t a native of these parts back then, so old-timers please forgive me!



§ 17 Responses to AOTW: Roddy Woomble – My Secret Is My Silence

  • steenbeck says:

    Roddy Woomble once bummed a cigarette from me! We saw Idlewild perform, and after the show he asked me for a ciggy!! What a claim to fame, eh?

    I liked Idlewild quite a bit, but haven’t listened to them in years. This sounds good, Bishbosh. Very much looking forward to a listen. Back after a bit with inarticulate reaction comments.

  • steenbeck says:

    I love the first track so far! Beautiful! He has a nice, rich voice. Didn’t really get that from Idlewild.

    If someone did cover this on the ‘Spill in 2006, and I probably liked it them and commented on it, boy will mytface be red!!

    • bishbosh says:

      Oh yes, that was the other thing I meant to mention in my blurb: his voice! It’s just beautiful, isn’t it? Get you with your celebrity fag bumming (OK, maybe I should rephrase that!)! Although of course I cannot condone smoking, young lady…

      • steenbeck says:

        Well, that’s a part of the story I left out. I didn’t actually have a cigarette for him, so he got one from the bartender.

      • bishbosh says:

        Glad to hear it, glad to hear it. I once shared a spliff with the lead singer of Kitchens of Distinction. But that’s not terribly A List!

  • tincanman says:

    Two folk rock albums in the same week sharpens the ears, and I found Carole’s Trees more interesting and engaging musically. That said, Trees could use some of the warmth – both of voice and personality – of Bish’s Woomble.

    I’m not saying the two bands could merge even if they were contemporaries. Each is a period piece, and it’s always a challenge in a narrow genre to be contemporary (and sell records) but not too derivative.

    I think Carole’s right that The Garden Of Jane Delawney manages that, just

    For Woomble to be dug out some day as a hidden gem of his period, I’d like My Secret Is My Silence to grow into either more Woomble or more band; this one sits too much between a solo effort and a band’s for my taste.

  • Shoegazer says:

    Doesn’t seem to have “Woombling Merry Christmas” or “Remember You’re A Woomble” on it?

    (New to me, looking forward to a listen).

  • makinavaja says:

    Bish, I once rolled a joint for Ian Dury. Does that count?
    Looking forward to listening to this.

    • bishbosh says:

      I think that trumps both my and steen’s efforts. (I’ve always been shit at skinning up.)

      • makinavaja says:

        There’s actually a story to that one. I was at a gig with my cousin Claire, who was affected by Thalidomide and as such only has little arms. We were right up front and Dury spotted her and invited us backstage after the gig. When it came to skinning up there was only one of us who could actually do it! I wasn’t able to partake (I was driving) and only had a perfunctory toke. But it was great to meet the guy, especially to see how special he made my cousin feel.

  • amylee9 says:

    The tracks i liked best were Waverly Steps and especially Under My Breath, which sounds sort of REM-ish. I have a thing for music that reminds me of being up in the mountains. I love the haunting fiddle, and he has a nice voice, but even better i like the harmonizing with the female vocalist. Thanks Bish!

  • magicman says:

    I love the phrase “My secret is my silence”. Not being much of a folky I found this rather good. Thanks for bringing it bish.
    On the celebrity smoking vibes, I did once get passed a joint by Sir Paul. I kid you not. Have you noticed how I always defend Macca on RR ? my hero.

  • treefrogdemon says:

    Brill, bishbosh, thanks…It was produced by John McCusker I see, as well as having him in the band.

    • bishbosh says:

      Ah, glad you popped by, tfd! Was just thinking today that this album might well be up your street…

      • treefrogdemon says:

        Funnily enough I was just looking at it in A.N.Other music blog and feeling sorry that the link didn’t work…

  • makinavaja says:

    Oooh! I like this a lot! Thanks Bish! Back later with more “intelligent” appreciation…

  • barbryn says:

    I enjoyed this – thanks. I noticed Mr Woomble (that name is an endless source of fun, isn’t it?) had been doing the folk festival circuit in the last few years, but hadn’t heard any of his solo stuff.

    It’s a long way from “When I Argue I See Shapes”, but not such a departure from the last Idlewild album (the only one I own). Funnily enough, that album reminded me of Fables-era REM.

    He has a distinctive voice and way with melody. Good stuff.

    I have never smoked anything with any celebrities, but have had a cup of tea in Toyah and Robert Fripp’s kitchen.

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