Album Review

Left By Soft

Left By Soft

by David Kilgour and The Heavy Eights


Arch HIll Recordings
8 / 10
16th May 2011

Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam


For someone who has made so much great music for decades now, it’d be easy to imagine David Kilgour coasting along. Left By Soft is anything but. Part of what made the Clean so legendary, was their live show. Left By Soft sounds like a live album – Kilgour and the band sound as fresh and raw as you could imagine the Clean in their heyday. Kilgour’s guitar is positively unleashed at points. It makes a shift from the more introspective last couple of solo albums The Far Now and the Nashville recorded Frozen Orange (plus also the Sam Hunt project Falling Debris). And it’s good, the band deserving as much credit as Kilgour for releasing a tight sounding and impressive album.

It starts off so recklessly too. The title track, ‘Left By Soft’ is a rollicking instrumental, over which Kilgour’s guitar wails unpredictably. ‘Way Down Here’ features more excellent guitar work – the band sound comfortable yet dangerous at the same time. ‘A Break In the Weather’ is a gorgeous wee song, which uses Hunt’s words over the chiming guitar work. For an album in which the band are the most important, it’s comes as an initial surprise to hear Kilgour’s voice so upfront. ‘Steel Arrow’ is another great pop song, catchy melodies and moving harmonies – Kilgour seems to be able to pull these out of nowhere. It’s the jangly guitar sound that helped make his name, and shows his versatility as a player. The mellow ‘Pop Song’ slow things down a bit, as Kilgour promises, ironically, to ‘write you a pop song’.

The second half of the album arguably isn’t as compelling as the first half – maybe it was a bit more mellow or maybe a bit more loose. ‘Autumn Sun’ is a little bit of a momentum staller coming on from ‘Pop Song’, despite its beautiful guitar work and dense textures – it could easily have fit somewhere else in the album, especially as it follows on with the chilled and slightly forgettable ‘Theme’. ‘Diamond Mine’ features another chiming guitar piece – and another cracker of a pop song. ‘I’ll Walk Back Up That Hill’ is a rambunctious wee song, which you can imagine being belted out in some beer-stained pub. ‘Could Be On My Way’, saw the band building up again, with Kilgour soloing away over another great melody. ‘Purple Balloon’ drifted off, an almost meditative instrumental to see off the album. Left By Soft is yet another unmistakeably Kilgourean album, and for a man (and to be fair a band too) who has been doing it for so long, it’s no easy feat to make it still sound very good.




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