The Green House
Flying Nun Records
There’s a quiet charm to Robert Scott’s best work – a song, such as Little Bird, one of just several on this, his latest solo album. It’s deceptively simple, yet could only have come from the heart and mind of Scott. He’s managed his time between supporting anchor (bassist churning on in The Clean) and reluctant frontperson (songwriter churning out the material for The Bats) and there’s also been a small handful of solo albums and ideas, songs for the most part, but sound-collage pieces too, little hints at soundtrack-like moods and moments.
The Green House is Scott’s best solo album – chiefly because every single song feels necessary and has been lovingly shaped, pulled into place and seeming perfect, however nonchalant or deceptively simple it might also seem.
There are moments – as on The Stary Show and Month of Sundays where it feels a lot like listening to The Bats, or at least songs that might have ended up on a Bats project. But the clever addition to this album – (not so) secret weapon Hollie Fullbrook (aka Tiny Ruins). On roughly half the album Fullbrook is counterweight, the special ingredient, she’s duet-partner, harmony vocalist, co-lead, and of course it takes these songs – instantly – away from being just songs by the guy from The Bats.
Opener, Your Lights Are Low, is a wonderful scene-setter, gauzy and mysterious, there’s a mood conjured by Fullbrook’s inclusion that lifts this song into the worlds of Portishead’s last recorded works, Feist, Nicole Atkins, Natalie Merchant…so it’s a different shape and space than just the jangle…
But Scott doesn’t need Tiny Ruins to add depth and emotion, it’s just a winning combination when she’s there. The closing Right From Wrong is about as perfect as a love song can be, and the album’s penultimate track, instrumental Where The Frost Lies, suddenly reminds us that we’re not just listening to the songwriter from The Bats, but also – and always – the bass player from The Clean. Following on from his last very good solo album, the superb Ends Run Together and decent work (as ever) from The Bats this finds Scott in exceptional writing form.