A history of near-certain disappointment hangs dark and low like a thundercloud over me whenever I approach the solo project of a musician whose band I love (I'm looking at YOU, Weiland) so when I originally heard about Roddy Woomble's solo offering My Secret Is My Silence, I took a pass. I love Idlewild too much, I thought. I can't let this get in the way.
Well, when I got my first taste of Idlewild's forthcoming release Make A New World this weekend, I could contain myself no longer. He still had plenty of good material left for the Idlewild record, I rationalized, maybe this solo thing won't be so bad. Nervously, wincingly, I pushed play.
Few things in this world are more satisfying than being surprised when you expected disappointment. The material on My Secret Is My Silence ranges from good to brilliant, and while I'll agree with Roddy's assessment that the songs "would have never lived with Idlewild," it's doing the songs and oneself a great disservice (as I admit guiltily to having done) to assume that means it's not as good.
The longer I sit here trying to say intelligent things about this record the more frustrated I'm getting, though. This is a systemic problem for me and one that I need to address, but I find it harder and harder to write about records that I love without feeling like I've already said these things about another record. Maybe it's just a matter of coming to terms with being a human Teddy Ruxpin. But I'm going to cry "Uncle" and just say this:
Realizing these songs outside of Idlewild allowed Roddy to explore his folksy side even further than in Idlewild's latest, Warnings / Promises, and clears the path for Idlewild's most rocking record in Make A New World since 100 Broken Windows*. Really, it's a very cinematic record in that, even more than much of Idlewild's very consciously Scottish rock, it SOUNDS Scottish. And not only because of accents or fiddles (though those don't hurt). You'll really have to listen for yourself. It's beautiful.
*All of which are wonderful records. Really, Idlewild's entire catalog is must-have.
(You can pre-order Idlewild's Make A New World here, as well as order Roddy's solo gem.)