Malcolm Middleton Sleight Of Heart

It’s slowly becoming evident that Malcolm Middleton’s solo work is actually more satisfying than his time with Arab Strap because of the depth of his songs. He might not be the cheeriest bastard around but the wit and honesty that come across in his lyrics have made him an artist worth listening to. Sleight of Heart is comprised mainly of songs written during the sessions for its predecessor, A Brighter Beat, and while the initial intention might have been to make an acoustic record, the songs have been fleshed out, making this feel greater than just a collection of leftovers. The stripped down arrangements make it very apparent that he is a remarkably talented guitarist, something of a revelation after his time in Arab Strap. In addition to six originals, there are three cover versions that run the gamut from obscure (Jackson C. Frank’s "Just Like Anything” and Scottish band King Creosote’s "Marguerita Red”) to a reinvention of Madonna’s "Stay,” which becomes a beautifully mournful lament and a wonderful addition to what could be his strongest record to date. (Full Time Hobby)