Andrew Savage last played in Glasgow just five months ago, trudging through a set with his more established project – New York City’s Parquet Courts – like someone slouching through the dogdays of a festival-filled summer towards the last date of a global tour. The sincerity and simplicity of his return to Glasgow – cramped into the narrow basement of Broadcast, first as guitarist in the backing band of Ultimate Painting’s Jack Cooper, and then as the main event, playing through his new solo album Thawing Dawn with the same band behind him – seemed like a reaffirmation of the pleasures of song-writing.
Thawing Dawn is an album of love songs, coloured by the self-doubt and angsty introspection which has characterized much of Savage’s song-writing for Parquet Courts, but doing away with (most of) the politics and moving towards a more sincere, tuneful, and self-consciously songwriter-y manner. Hearing it from start to finish, along with a cover of The Cranberries’ ‘Linger’ in tribute to the late Dolores O’ Riordan, the album makes sense as a container for all the songs which are too tender for the Parquet Courts canon. And although Savage’s delivery is always strained, here he eschewed the affected punk excess which has been his trademark, and his singing had something of the teen-aged fantasist about it, satisfying all the corny craving of writing-from-experience. Savage made a sarcastic aside at one point about his new role as storytelling singer-songwriter, but really the lyrics on this album do indicate a desire for songs to do justice to the observational and emotional poignancies by which he pretends to be embarrassed, just as his meandering hokey guitar solos seemed to be drawn from a wish to play just for the sake of the song. This is especially apparent after the extended existential interlude of What Do I Do, when Savage returns to his romantic theme on the faux-country Phantom Limb. He sings: “There’s a local tavern comfort you evoke, there’s a point to life nestled in your eyes when you’re laughing at all my jokes”. I am taken in by the cosy scene.
There is nothing exceptional about the sound or the atmosphere of the performance, but it is just nice to hear songs played in order, with guitars and feeling.