Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble - Before The Ruin

Mark Shields 25/09/2008

Rating: 4/5

The Scottish accent is in vogue. The use of the Americanised vocals have been slowly fading away with the advent of the Libertines-esque Lahndahn drawl and the Arctic Monkeys Brummie rasping. The voice of the UK rock is back with the local accents taking precedence over the pop stylings of the American style wailing and over use of vocal somersaults, and standing out in front of the pack is the Scottish accent, mostly Glaswegian, strangled with emotion, rolling the Rs heavily for extra effect.

The Twilight Sad was like a bolt of lightning last year, the loud and heavy wall of sound, daring from My Bloody Valentine, coupled with the soaring vocals of a Scottish accent so vivid it surprised me, a Scot, to hear it so unashamedly undisguised. Now, Frightened Rabbit and Glasvegas are popping up with varying success, again, bolstered by a unique sound rooted deeply in the use of Scottish accents.

One man who has been at both ends of the spectrum is Roddy Woomble, singing in American style in his early Idlewild records, coming full circle with 2006's My Secret is My Silence, a true Scottish indie-folk record by his own voice. Joining acclaimed songwriters Kris Drever and John McCusker the ground work was laid for an interesting sound match of folk inflected indie and indie inflect folk.

The result is something that is wholly interesting and quite surprisingly coherent. There are no Idlewild tracks here and no out and out folk tracks. The songs are stripped down, guitar strings and vocals, with the occasional flourish of percussion. The lyrics are woven in and out of the melody in the way the quieter Idlewild songs have been known to do, but the rhythm of a good folk song is present with each syllable, carrying the music along.

This album is a good exercise in song writing - each composition is balanced well, simple, melodic, and thundering with emotion, you can't imagine it as a simple side project. The album, even as it might initially seem as a plaything of each member (Drever is accomplished as a solo tactician, McCusker the superstar instrumentalist in high demand already and Woomble, the most high profile of the trio, is already working on the 6th Idlewild album) the importance in each of the artists' back catalogue of this album should not be under estimated.

It is beautiful at times, heart breaking at others, surprising for many, this album should be considered for anyone interested in Idlewild lore, contemporary folk and those salivating at the prospect of three differing voices coming together for a Reindeer Section moment. It has the Scottish accent of Woomble and Drever, but has more of the Scottish voice in the fiddle work, the jaunty acoustic guitar work, and the subject matter. The Scottish accent is in vogue, and this will show that not only is the voice important, but so are the structure and the instruments.