MUSIC – Roddy Hart is back... with a little help from Coldplay's producer

SCOTS singer Roddy Hart has finally hit upon the perfect formula for his music – thanks to help from the man who produced Coldplay's X & Y album.

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Roddy Hart, third from left, and the Lonesome Fire
Roddy Hart, third from left, and the Lonesome Fire

Roddy's released three records already in his career, but upcoming release The Lonesome Fire sees him play as part of a full band, also called the Lonesome Fire.

And for that he was able to call upon Danton Supple, the man who's worked with the likes of Patti Smith and Morrissey.

But Roddy admits there were nerves before he started work.

"It was kind of terrifying," laughs the singer, who headlines the O2 ABC on Saturday as part of Celtic Connections.

"The first three albums I made were pretty much produced by me, partly because I didn't always have a budget to bring someone on board, and we've been gigging so much we'd built enough of a budget to make something happen this time.

"We didn't expect to get someone as big as Danton Supple, though, but he believed in us so much and that was a great show of faith from him."

And the producer stayed close to Roddy's vision of what the album should be, rather than insisting on any major changes.

"He didn't really change much, but I was worried, for no reason, that someone like that would change the heart of the songs," he says.

"He wasn't like that at all, he was very respectful of what we wanted to do and he was very good at saying when he didn't think things were working."

Some of Roddy's fanbase, earned through regular gigging over the past several years, might be surprised by the Lonesome Fire. Instead of the folky and stripped back music of before, this time he's aiming for a sweeping sound.

"The other three were singer-songwriter albums where I got my Dylan and Springsteen obsessions out of the way," recalls Roddy.

"Now I felt I've got a band together with the right people and that's been crucial, as they let me write songs that I know we can fully realise.

"We've been influenced by bands like the National and Arcade Fire but we're trying to make it our own sound as well."

It's fitting several of the tracks will get an airing at Saturday's special Celtic Connections show. Roddy has appeared regularly at the event over the past few ears, and he and the Lonesome Fire have frequently acted as the house band at some of the festival's all-star tribute shows, playing at nights dedicated to Gerry Rafferty, Bob Dylan and this year The Band's Levon Helm.

These are all experiences that Roddy enjoys, even if he admits there's just a little bit of stress going on there as well.

"Every year a bit of fear happens," he laughs.

"It usually starts a little before October, with pulling the bill together, and then it's making sure it's a decent set, thinking about the dynamics of the set, making sure people are all represented at the gig and it can be a nightmare making sure everyone is on the same page."

There could be an extra team-up on the cards at their own gig, too.

Supporting the Lonesome Fire on the night are promising Glasgow blues act Three Blind Wolves, who Roddy's known for some time. He's optimistic they'll lend each other a hand on Saturday.

"I remember Ross Clark, the singer of Three Blind Wolves, when he was a singer song-writer too, and we finally met just when he started the band. They've got an album out this year as well, so they're doing brilliantly and if we can pull it together there might be a collaboration on the night too."

And the singer believes that the Celtic Connections festival itself provides a terrific boost for Glasgow's music scene, especially in a traditionally quiet month.

"January was traditionally a month you would dread, as a musician and as a punter going back to work after the Christmas break," he says.

"But there's something about the festival now that is a really special event. I couldn't imagine any other time or place for it as January is just a perfect month."

l Roddy Hart & the Lonesome Fire O2 ABC, Saturday

£15 / 7.30pm.

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