Robert Forster

Warm Nights

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Produced by Edwyn Collins, a longtime acquaintance of Forster from their Orange Juice/Go-Betweens days on the Postcard label, Warm Nights continues the string of wry, sharp romance from Forster's other solo releases. The flavor of Warm Nights is a touch less obviously country-pitched in comparison -- more of the deft, understated rock/pop that the Go-Betweens were known for more returns, though occasional acoustic steel guitar breaks and the like show that Forster hasn't turned away from that approach entirely. If anything, though, the most notable guest musical work comes from a different angle, with five separate folks credited for a variety of brass instruments (tuba, trombone, and the like), plus another guest on cello. Collins himself helps lead the core band backing Forster, and both his performance and production emphasize a calm, wiry approach that's very direct, going so far as to leave in the occasional glitch or audible tape edit. Forster's singing is extremely clear and straightforward, sounding like he's singing right in a listener's ear, without being overbearing (though there's a hint of over-modulation on the recording once or twice). Musically, touches like rough guitar solos buried under echo and the New Orleans jazz horns on "Fortress" give Warm Nights a comparative depth, balancing the immediacy of the music with greater detail. One song worthy of attention is "Rock 'n' Roll Friend," a Go-Betweens rarity turned into a low-key anthem (though admittedly the organ soloing could easily have been lost without hurting the performance). Other notable tracks include the title cut, a quick, nervous kick, and the light R&B/funk groove of "Jug of Wine." Warm Nights itself turned out to be the last album Forster released before the Go-Betweens' reunion, but as the end, for now, of his solo career, it's a worthy effort.

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