HAVING given up one of his shows on BBC Radio Scotland so he no longer feels conflicted speaking and blogging on the subject of Scottish independence, there can be little doubt that Ricky Ross is that old-fashioned kind of rock star – the sort who is unafraid to wrap up his political perspective with his artistic output.
From its quietly suggestive title on, it feels hard to divorce his band’s new album (their third in 13 years, following 2012’s The Hipsters) from the matter of the vote which will take place less than a fortnight after its release next week. Yet it might also be entirely unrelated. Almost every track on here could be interpreted both as a straightforward love song and as a metaphorical comment upon the nature of Scotland as a nation and its relationship with its closest neighbours.
Ascribing meaning to the reflective, string-laden lyrics of Win, for example (“when tomorrow comes / we’re out of here / gonna pack some things / gonna be our year”) might be putting so many unintended words in his mouth, but it’s undoubtedly a testament to the quality of Ross’ lyricism that these songs allow multiple open-ended but seemingly complete interpretations. Only Our New Land is unequivocal in its meaning.
Musically A New House is as polished as ever, although for a band who once seemed to course with the euphoric lifeblood of the working class Scots character, a symphonic sweep which puts the listener in mind of Elbow and a buoyant folk-rock reminiscent of latter-day Dylan feel slightly second-hand. Yet its heart is unmistakably Deacon Blue, and their many long-time admirers will love it. David Pollock
Download: A New House, I Remember Every Single Kiss