Generally speaking, blame/praise for Idlewild’s moderation from raucousness into country sad ballad territory has been levied at Roddy Woomble, whose prominent folk-streak presumably guided their softening. With A Sentimental Education, guitarist Rod Jones stakes his own claim for the shift, with a solo album steeped in Californian country rock of yesteryear. But it’s by no means an undiluted Americana love-in, with Celtic folk echoes creating a blend with similarities to Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell’s collaborations.
Unlike Woomble’s undervalued solo work, however, Jones’s debut underwhelms: his voice is passable but leaves little impression, which wouldn’t be a problem if the songs imposed themselves more strongly. Some songs offer distinction – A Pirate Song picks up the pace, while Your Deaf Heart sounds like a Warnings/Promises demo (faint praise, but praise nonetheless) – though overall the results make Idlewild’s recent decision to take a hiatus seem all the more disappointing. [Chris Buckle]