Phil Selway: Familial (Shock)

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Phil Selway: Don't Look Down
Phil Selway: Familial (Shock)

Despite the careers of Phil Collins and Dave Grohl – and Ringo's country music record after the Beatles' break-up – no one expects much of solo albums by drummers: Peter Criss' was the worst seller of the Kiss solo releases in 78. Pussycat whiskers didn't help.

But Radiohead's Selway – one of Neil Finn's 7 Worlds Collide project – confounds expectation, as his band always have. First there's no tub-thumping, just moody and interesting (and deftly orchestrated) singer-songwriter music with acoustic bassist Sebastian Steinberg, violinist Lisa Germano, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche (all Colliders) as well as Don McGlashan and others sympathetic to Selway's Anglofolk-framed songs which reach from spare Nick Drake to a more lightly touched and slightly dissonant worldview.

The gorgeous hurt of Broken Promises goes back to a childhood home when pains have faded and he touches a universal place for many parents and their children as he seems to address sisters or brothers: “Let's celebrate the lives that you made, go to a place where you'll find peace for the very first time”.

This, the engrossing drone of Don't Look Down with its off-kilter piano (“It's like we're on high trapeze . . . what we see in the cold light can scare us all”), and the tone of thoughtful introspection (despite it all, life's probably okay, maybe) make for an album that really is quite something.

You won't miss the drum solo.

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