The Luxury of Hysteria
LP (2007, Ruby Q)
Related: Tim Rogers.
Sometimes I’ve struggled with the Applecross Wing Commander’s awkward ways. Tim Rogers’ songs and performances are often marked by an inebriated, garrulous quality, but whether you hear them as the much-loved tales of a favourite uncle who has had too much Christmas sherry, or the mutterings of a drunk caught between the bars, tugging at your sleeve for loose change, well, that depends on your disposition. If you’re in the latter camp, The Luxury of Hysteria will come as a surprise. The mood here is reflective and intimate, with little of the audacious swagger that characterises Rogers’ work with You Am I. His delivery on this album is as vulnerable as a 4 a.m. voice mail, the songs burdened with the weight of loss, though Rogers has thankfully resisted the simplistic paths of blame or self pity. The lyrics are more cryptic than that, less self-conscious too.
There’s space in this music. As a departure point, think of the wistful and affecting title track of Hourly Daily. Here cellist Mel Robinson conjures spectral arrangements that are shaded with restraint by some of this country’s finest musicians, including Shane O’Mara and his “lute and guitarsenal” and ex-Hunter & Collector, Jack Howard, on trumpet. Standouts include ‘A Quiet Night In’, ‘James the Second’, and the title track, easily one the best things Rogers has recorded. If hysteria is a luxury, is regret a refuge? These songs form a haven for self-contemplation and renewal, and in them Tim Rogers confronts the faults and complexities we all carry with a sense of grace and the possibility of change.
“When you’re sad,” he sings, “the night comes in and you get some chances again”. Amen to that.
by Aaron Curran