Roddy Frame

Seven Dials

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Simply put, Roddy Frame's fourth solo album, 2014's Seven Dials, is one of the finest things he's done, rivaling his best work with Aztec Camera and showing that even after over 30 years writing songs, he's not even close to running out of gas creatively. Coming a long time after his previous album, 2006's Western Skies, the record is emotionally honest, musically pure and warm, and filled with lots of insightful, stripped bare emotionally lyrics. Played by Frame and a small band, with very sympathetic production by longtime friend Edwyn Collins and his partner Sebastian Lewsley, the album has a very intimate feel and Frame's rich and unaged vocals ring loud and clear throughout. Some of the tracks bring up memories of early Aztec Camera, with their quiet acoustic guitars and melancholy chord changes ("From a Train," "Rear View Mirror"), some are openhearted Dad rockers complete with harmonica ("Forty Days of Rain"), and quite a few are nicely jangling sophisticated songs that would have spruced up any AC album with their unvarnished sound. There's even the cheekily titled "Postcard," which sounds like it could have been a smash hit in an imagined world where L.A. soft rock and U.K. sophisti-pop merged in a holy blend of dreamy backing vocals, smart chord changes, and super smooth playing. Nice tip of the hat to the legendary guitar solo on "Oblivious" too. Throughout, Frame sounds like he's looking back and taking stock, which gives the lyrics some real depth and feeling. It's not often that an artist who's been in the game this long can make an album this pure and true, touching on the past without reliving it and feeling like a rebirth instead of another installment in a career of similar steps. Thanks to his past triumphs, Roddy Frame will always have a place in the hearts of fans of smart, difficult-to-pin-down guitar pop. With Seven Dials, he shows that he still deserves it.

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