ROD CLEMENTS Odd Man Out Market Square MSMCD143(2006)
A good choice of title this as Rod Clements certainly is at odds with the both the world and the quality-starved music of the day. The former Lindisfarne mainstay has turned out an exemplary album of multi-genre yet cohesive songs that explore everything from religious fundamentalism, politics and childhood to love, sarcasm and, yes, comedy.
Excellently produced by the ever-improving Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore's guitarist and mentor), this is Rod's fourth solo album, and his best by a country mile. He is backed up by a cracking bunch of musicians including Stonier himself (guitars), Dave Hull-Denholm (guitars), ex 10cc sticksman Paul Burgess and some classy harmonies from Thea Gilmore.
The album is full of a lifetime's influences as you'd expect - a little Bert Jansch here, a little Ralph McTell there, a whole bunch of Lindisfarne all over the place. But don't be lulled into thinking this is another Lindisfarne album - it's much too diverse for that.
Hard to pick highlights as most of the songs are very strong, but the opener All Grown Up And Nowhere To Go gets things off to a great start and this is followed by Existentially Yours - a superb twist on twelve bar blues with some pretty caustic anti-religious sentiments. Ragtown is a work-song of sorts about building the Hoover Dam in the 1930's and features a classic mandolin solo from Rod. New Best Friend is tremendous, as is September Sunrise, and it all finishes with a flourish with the toe-tapping Morocco Bound.
If I had to find a fault, and let's face it, critics have to find a fault (!), it would be that on a couple of the more folky tracks, dare I say it that Rod's voice is beginning to show its age a bit. Nothing to worry about though as this is easily overshadowed by the sheer quality of the songwriting and the exuberance of the playing.