Robert Forster – The Candle and The Flame – Album Review
by Killian Laher
The new Robert Forster album was recorded against the backdrop of his wife Karin Bulmer’s cancer diagnosis. However, his wife’s illness doesn’t weigh heavily on this collection of songs, we are not in the territory of The Evangelist here, this album is more upbeat. It opens with the pacy strum of She’s A Fighter – a pop song with a simple message “she’s a fighter, fighting for good”, and all done in two minutes. Tender Years is more mid-paced fare, very representative of late period Forster, gentle wry observations and heartfelt sentiment (“I’m in a story with her, I know I can’t live without her”). The gentle strum of It’s Only Poison sounds kind of unassuming until you notice Forster’s son Louis’ electric guitar contributions and the gorgeous backing vocals from Baumler. Her violin arrangement on The Roads gives this track a stately air.
The album sounds kind of old-fashioned, largely based around strummed acoustic guitars, and the Dylan influence is probably stronger than ever here – especially the duet I Don’t Do Drugs I Do Time. Always is probably the most fully realised song here, lovely guitar work from father and son, something of a modern classic. The stripped-down plaintive chords of There’s A Reason To Live is almost elegiac on what is a necessarily reflective album. Never more so than on the final track When I Was A Young Man where he reflects on his life as a 21-year-old, referencing ‘elder brothers’ David and Lou, then a new David and Tom.
It’s all quite raw, at times almost sounding like a bunch of demos, but the songs grow on you. Far from wallowing in their family situation, Robert Forster has harnessed his family’s talents, including daughter Loretta on backing vocals on Go Free. A fine addition to his catalogue of albums.
Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music
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