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There are few songwriters to ever surpass the gifts he’s brought, either on his own, with The Pale Fountains, Shack or The Strands, but Michael Head and his Red Elastic Band start to unwrap the fifth decade of his artistry with some of his finest work. His 2022 album, Dear Scott, as cohesive and coherent as any album he’s made and this time in the company of producer, Bill Ryder-Jones, is the luminescent result of Head’s star collapsing before morphing to illuminate the skies twice as brightly as before. A dizzying constellation of carefully-crafted songs, pin-sharp playing and deft, life-bringing production, Head’s latest masterpiece, according to the man himself, was a simple matter of his band leading by example and honing their craft, requiring him to up his game. Dear Scott’s title refers back to a golden age of show business, writing and movie-making, a million miles from a pandemic-shrouded Liverpool, that captivated Head in recent years. It’s a place of escape. It is a rewarding journey, made special by its ocean-deep depths. Is there another, living songwriter who can make us feel quite this way?