Michael Head & the Red Elastic Band: Dear Scott review – a magical record

Every few years there is a big push behind Michael Head, the Liverpool troubadour whose bittersweet Merseydelia has made him a revered cult figure of 40-odd years’ standing. Despite a career of Sisyphean stops and starts, Head’s muse has remained constant over nine albums and four incarnations.

So here, then, are 12 more hardscrabble character studies and “boulevards of fractured dreams”, all illuminated by evergreen romance and the influence of Love. Every Head album is a gem, but Dear Scott – named after a note-to-self by F Scott Fitzgerald, down on his luck – has a particularly deep internal lustre.

This time around, Head’s gifts are being handled by savvy compatriots. The producer of this magical record, gilded with sensitively arranged strings and brass, is Head fan Bill Ryder-Jones, once of the Coral. The Red Elastic Band are on point; the Coral run the label. And while songs such as Broken Beauty and The Ten remain rooted in Liverpool’s less salubrious postcodes, the US west coast plays its generous supporting role – in the Byrds jangle of Head’s songcraft and in one of the album’s standout moments, Fluke, which tells of a homes-of-the-stars LA bus tour with wry melodrama.


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