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RODDY HART Sign Language Vertical (2009)

Roddy Hart

'Discovered' by Kris Kristofferson, Glaswegian singer songwriter is a throw back to the late 1970s cross-over generation where solo artists became rock stars.

Sign Language is the follow-up to Roddy's acclaimed 2006 debut Bookmarks which invited comparisons with Springsteen, Costello, Dylan and Tom Petty. An album that featured in the Sunday Mail's top ten albums of that year.

A demo released post graduating with a law degree originally bought Roddy to the attention of Kristofferson who asked him to open on his UK tour. Kristofferson then added backing vocals, as did Eddie Reader to Sign Language. Roddy's subsequently toured with them both, as well as other headliners like Ray LaMontagne, and Roseanne Cash.

Which sort of tells you, that Roddy Hart is a serious singer songwriter. Not a pop wannabe.

And the irony is that he sounds like he comes from across the pond. The album opens with the single Send A Message which bring images to mind of Billy Joel at his peak circa The Stranger. (You Don't Know ) What You Do To Me is a gentle Bono style ballad with some lovely sympathetic guitar, harmonica and keys.

By contrast, Look At You Now is a reinventions of The Boss, with Hart's backing band - The Lonesome Fire - exploding in the final furlong like the E Street Band in full flight. While elsewhere you get folk, country, gospel and pop tinged ballads, with Evangeline being particularly fine number.

Already declared album of the year' by the Sunday Mail, there's no denying that Sign Language is an accomplished and classy piece of AOR popular rock. . If it was a Billy Joel album it would be considered the comeback album of the decade. Although in fairness Joel's voice is no longer a match for Hart's plaintive vocals.


Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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