This latest release from Jamie Telford, who in the past has played with The Jam and The Style Council, was written "on a hillside in Scotland in the winter of 2013" (somewhere, I guess, near Telford's Borders home in Langholm). Apart from a slight hint of an accent here and there, there's not a lot that's definably Scottish about the end result other than, perhaps, the melancholy clouds that pass across each song, slowing the pace and casting melodic shadows over Telford's world view.
Instead, The Year Of Happy is high-quality writing formed from a classic mould. Not indie fashionable, not ruffling any muso feathers, but stripping back an album to lovely, atmospheric songs that each have something to say.
There are some attractive quirks in the arrangements too: the Beatles-esque woodwind that colours the title track, or the unusual combination of Baroque bassoon and accordion on High Street Saturday, which somehow perfectly captures the loping gait of the weary shopper as the words treat the trudge of the title as a metaphor for life. This is pop music for grown-ups, where the carefully honed tunes are left to do much of the work. They are, however, fit for the task, as Telford avoids playing simple formulaic games.