Gordon Bell – Songs for the Broken Hearted

Somewhere in the journey between True North and his ninth CD Gordon Bell decided that his alter-ego, Gustav Bertha, had to go. The rising popularity of Scotland’s most profilic export meant that some people didn’t realise that Gustav wasn’t his real name. While this may initially affect his listener base I doubt it will be long before the ill-informed catch up and dive into his strongest and most accessible album yet.

He is not one to name-drop his influences, but this album has clear muses. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band are long-time guides on Gordon’s musical path and evident in tracks such as Don’t Go and White Collar Slave. The Kinks, Pavement, and Tom Waits also deserve a mention here.

While at times the subject matter is dark, the album buzzes with humour and positive, upbeat melodies. American Boys taunts listeners with the line “Osama is coming to get you”, Lucky Stars is a double-twist love affair set during a war featuring a memorable tongue-in-cheek hook “so I took my place in a dead man’s bed”. The Pavement-esque chorus of lead track Song for the Broken Hearted is a mood lifting battle cry to those in despair. The final stages of Weightless is a journey from Parisian chic into 60s power pop which will have you singing along. The 50s noir atmosphere of The Policeman will stun – easily the best song on a strong CD.

Ian Simpson