Robert Forster

Songs to Play

(Tapete Records)

There are people (especially in Scotland) who will fall upon this ten song collection of new work by one of the co-founders of Australia's Go-Betweens like ravenous beasts. It was no accident that the band's first UK release was via Postcard Records of Glasgow and the common inspiration Forster and Grant McLennan found in the music The Velvet Underground with Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice is as audible on Songs to Play as it was 35 years ago. But there is a vast distance between this album and Forster's the much darker The Evangelist, released in 2008, a year after McLennan's early death. During those seven years, Forster has worked in a producing capacity with younger musicians and two of those - Scott Bromley and Luke McDonald from The John Steel Singers - return the favour here, adding their multi-instrumental skills to those of drummer Matt Piele and violinist Karin Baumler. It sounds like a real band album (just one sense in which the title is very appropriate), recorded on analogue equipment in a retro-studio near Brisbane, with Forster on top form out front. From the lovely Let Me Imagine You to the surprising sixties bossa-beat of Love Is Where It Is, these songs are the perfect match of words and music. Those hungry-to-listen will not be disappointed.

Keith Bruce