Music matters. It matters to many of us in ways we find hard to express. In these days of perma-music spat out by faceless ‘artists’, dribbling from every lift, eatery, bank and other public place, it is easy to develop musical indigestion, a gut full of insubstantial and confected ‘product’. It’s easy to slide into that lazy assumption that music isn’t what it used to be, to shrug and accept that mid-tempo, mid-range and middle-of-the-road is all we should expect. But for anyone with an ounce (or should than be ‘gram’) of interest and energy, music is still oddly alive and well, uplifting, absorbing, challenging, enriching and beguiling.
Tom McRae has been producing music of the highest order for longer than he is likely keen to admit to. Personal, oft painful, pissed off and dissatisfied. For those of us without the gift, gumption or grace to produce our own music to vent our spleen or express our love, we look to the likes of Mr McRae to satisfy this need for us.
The new album Ah The World! Oh The World! is an especially fine suite of songs. An album to be listened to as such (preferably not on Spotify), listened to and heard, listened to and thought about. Written and recorded during these last (and still) troubling times where much that many hold dear seems under threat or question, this is an album that echoes the times we are living through.
The initial run sees the album enrobed in a little red book of notes, diary entries, drawings and photos that add depth, insight and understanding for the music it contains. This is music that does matter, it matters whether or not you like it (you would have to be a hard hearted dolt not to like it though, in my opinion), it matters that it is here, that someone has taken the care to record it, it matters that someone gives enough of a f*ck to produce it in such a beautiful edition. It matters because it is unsettling and in many ways it is a triumph of despair over hope (albeit with a coda that suggests a less desolate chap).
In the little red book Mr McRae ponders as to whether or not he will record another album, let’s hope that he does and that he pays a little more attention to the good reviews and a little less to those he feels are less good. Go buy a copy of this fine bundle whilst it lasts, and check the dates to see the old curmudgeon as he does put on a fine old show! Cheer up you old bugger (but not too much!)