Rest and Be Thankful


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Rest and Be Thankful Review

by Timothy Monger

Rest and Be Thankful, Joe McAlinden's second solo LP under the name Linden, is a delight of appealingly age-worn sunshine guitar pop. The Scottish singer/songwriter cut his teeth in the '80s and '90s with a number of different well-regarded indie pop outfits like the Boy Hairdressers, the Groovy Little Numbers, and Superstar, before eventually settling down on the shores of Loch Fyne in the Western Highlands. He re-emerged in 2012 under the name Linden with Bleached Highlights, an excellent solo debut in keeping with his track record of melodic, '60s-indebted power pop. Taking its name from an old stone marker on the A83 overlooking Loch Fyne, Rest and Be Thankful is an apt title for a record whose themes seems to echo this sentiment. The wistful melancholia of aging is reflected in the lovely, chiming opener "I See," whose evocative natural imagery is framed by rich harmonies and elegant strings. Standout track "Window Pane," a piano-led pop number with a soulful, horn-laden edge, conveys a sense of longing that is as wide as the Highland vistas seen through the window of the remote cabin studio where it was recorded. Shining through all of these intimate human emotions is a sense of grandeur inspired by the natural beauty of his surroundings as McAlinden's sweet, broken tenor moves gingerly through the experiences of his life. As enjoyable as Bleached Highlights was, Rest and Be Thankful feels more personal and nurtured. Perhaps most enjoyable of all is the title cut, another horn-heavy piece of sublime indie pop whose rich harmonies closely recall the hallmark blend of frequent collaborators and fellow countrymen Teenage Fanclub. Like the Beach Boys, the Brill Building acts, or any of pop's greatest emoters, McAlinden knows how to wrap sadness, joy, heartache, and nostalgia into simple box with a ray of sunshine for a bow. Rest and be thankful, indeed.

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