Robert Forster has been a busy man in the seven years since his last solo outing, The Evangelist (2008). He has worked as a producer and a writer and overseen the compilation of G Stands For Go Between, the box set that reprises the work of his band, the legendary antipodean tunesmiths The Go Betweens. Songs To Play finds Forster in a fun and adventurous mood. It is a mix of the melodic pop and singer/songwriter tunes you’d expect with the odd experimental twist.
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 16 September 2015Tricky one to digest this one. Robert Forster was not only co-songwriter in my beloved the Go-Betweens but is surely the worlds suavest man. Just look at him. It’s lovely to have him back. It’s still hard to think about him making music without best pal Grant McLennan around and there was something about them two in that they never worked quite as well apart as they did together. Having said that, Forster’s previous album ’The Evangelist’ was rather excellent. ‘Songs to Play’ is his first in seven years and starts brightly enough with ‘Learn to Burn’ which uses that kind of mid-fi production The Go-Betweens used on their later post-reformation albums like ‘The Friends of Rachel Worth’. It runs on a little long though as inspiration starts to wane. ‘Let Me Imagine You’ is as lovely as the album gets with that striped sunlight sound in full effect. Forster hasn’t really stretched him himself vocally for many years and here he stays in his comfort zone but this is not unenjoyable and we should be thankful to have him around at all. The album is a subtle affair - on first listen it washed over me a bit but on second listen with headphones cuddling my ears I’m starting to react to it’s charms. ‘Songwriters on the Run’ is quite the delight -- Forster is joined by a female vocalist and their voices mesh really well. Time is such an issue with modern day listening attitudes. ’Songs to Play’ won’t blow you away at first -- some songs sound worryingly like previous work for one thing -- but there’s always been more to the Go-Betweens than brilliant songs (although they had plenty of them). It’s a certain feeling that they evoke and you sometimes need to allow time for the melodies to bed in. So I've come up with a plan: together let’s listen to this through the Autumn as the wind pulls the leaves from the trees and we'll see where that gets us.
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