Elbow are one of the few bands out there that seem to genuinely and consistently like each other’s company, so there’s probably no need to read any more into their frontman’s first solo album than him scratching a creative itch.
God knows how he’s found the time, between touring, Elbow’s recent, gorgeous Lost Worker Bee EP and his BBC 6Music show, but here it is. Nothing will scare off fans of the day job – his voice remains a warm bear hug and romance is cherished (particularly on the beautiful Juggernaut, which finds him hit full in the face by love) and that wonderfully cynical, particularly northern poetry is impeccable (‘Burgeoning sky all-day grey, like living in a Tupperware box’ fits the Manchester skyline to a tee). He play with his influences more here too. Opener Angela’s Eyes, has the loose, boozy shuffle of Swordfishtrombones-era Tom Waits. The crackling Electricity transports him to a 1930s gin palace, where he’s joined by Jolie Holland for a duet steeped in jazz from a time when the genre was still a baby. Garvey is well on the way to national treasure status, and Courting The Squall is another stunning example of why that should be.