“The excitement of possibility” is a phrase from a recent Ricky Ross interview. He is speaking about A New House, Deacon Blue’s seventh album, and these words are made flesh in a collection of songs that buzz with life and hope and rebirth. Perhaps building on the confidence the band must have gained from the response to their previous record Hipsters A New House is about the euphoria of spring without ignoring the cold ground of winter. Ross, in that same interview, cites John Donne’s line “No Winter shall abate the Spring’s increase” as the inspirational cornerstone.
It is not often the review of a rock album references a Professor in Old Testament Theology but this album reminded me so much of Walter Brueggemann whose book Finally Comes The Poet speaks of the prophets being those who reveal the potential of what can be and inspire the people to reach towards it. A New Home is all about creating an inspirational hope for what could be. New beginnings, a new house, a new land, dreaming, believing and winning bombards the listener with positivity. Not that the former things are ignored. It is the happy memory of a new house in childhood that fires future newness. There are heartbreaking memories too which are reconciled so that life can move on.
If they had used New Land as the title track instead of A New House Alex Salmond might have been dropping a copy of the record through every letterbox in Scotland to gain those few extra votes that might bring Scottish Independence in Thursday’s Referendum. Ross is a major supporter of the Yes campaign and there can be little doubt that his mind imagining a new Scotland, thrilled by the prospect of it, has crept into the music. Yet, this record is about more than one country’s future destiny. A New House has a more universal theme. This is about all our individual lives and all the communities, cities and nations we belong to. The record doesn’t start in political Glasgow or Edinburgh. It starts with the opportunity of beginning again in spiritual Bethlehem.
Ricky Ross has always had a sensitive lyrical touch, poetic and memorable with the ability to have feet firmly planted on a broken hearted earth but have head and soul in some other redeeming place. On A New House the band drive Ross’s ideas forward and his optimism is given a sound that seeps into your inner being as you listen. I’ll leave it with March “I want the rush the push of every shoot/The thrust, the trust/The march to May.” Take a morning run with these songs in your headphones and then try to live your day in pessimism and monotony; as impossible as sucking a fruit pastille without chewing!