Rab Noakes

The Treatment Tapes EP

Neon

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THERE may only be half a dozen tracks on it, and the instrumentation is far from lavish, but you may not hear a more uplifting recording this year. The nod to Dylan in the title and the splendid photo collage cover by David Mach dresses the project singer/songwriter Noakes undertook in the face of a diagnosis of tonsillar cancer. The cure was more of a trial than the affliction, but, as he says, at least he got a song or two out of it. The closer, Water Is My Friend, includes this couplet: "There are people looking after me who don't get paid enough/While bankers take a big reward for far less useful stuff" and that spirit suffuses the whole project.

Recorded at John Cavanagh's home studio in Muirend, Glasgow, Noakes wife Stephy Pordage co-produces and supplies on assist on one of the lyrics, while drummer Stu Brown, bassist Una McGlone, cellist Atzi Muramatsu and oboeist Anne Rankin offer very specific support on particular tracks. But the set – out next week launched with a gig at the end of Celtic Connections – is all about Noakes finding his voice again, and treating himself to a new guitar to accompany it – just don't give him any of that silly battling/fighting cancer nonsense. He knows where credit is due.

Keith Bruce