Previously better-known as an international television reporter, singer-songwriter Angus Roxburgh's debut album is an elegant mixture of social and deeply personal songs. The opening track, "God Ran Out of Ideas", reflects on the human evil and natural disasters that make this such an imperfect world; "Janie Needs a New Soldier" was written during the Iraq War, and "Summer of 69" is a wry comment on the idealistic Woodstock generation that somehow ended up polluting the planet and causing a financial crisis with their greed. "For You" is about love that turns your world upside down, while "Head Above Water", a comment on the artist's personal struggles, takes as its starting point a photograph by Steve McCurry, depicting a man striding through neck-high water in floods in Gujarat in 1983, saving only his sewing-machine.
The album has been a lot time coming. Having taught himself to play guitar at the age of fourteen, Roxburgh composed dozens of songs as a teenager - for private consumption only. His public appearances then were in bands playing at town-hall dances in his native Scotland, mostly covers of Beatles and Stones songs and rock'n'roll classics. For many years after that, while he pursued a highly successful career in journalism, he played only at people's parties - his favourite songs were by artists such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and John Martyn, plus Scottish folk-songs in the style of Dick Gaughan. Only in his fifties did he return to song-writing, his work enriched by many years of reporting from wars and crises around the world. One former colleague said of him: "Most journalists write their memoirs... You've done it in song!"
Roxburgh became known around the world as one of the BBC's leading foreign correspondents. He had his fill of human misery, covering earthquakes, natural and man-made disasters and wars for television and radio. He was based for many years in Russia, and was even expelled after being falsely accused of being a spy by the Soviet government in 1989. During a tricky situation when he was arrested by drunken Russian troops in war-torn Chechnya, he won his captors round by picking up a guitar and singing "Yesterday" and "You're in the Army Now"!
Some of his experiences have found their way into his lyrics, though he says he is keeping more of them for later albums. On Harmonies For One (2011), "God Ran Out of Ideas" has a haunting melody and poignant lyrics about the London underground bombings, the Nazi death camps and the tsunami of 2004.
His voice has been described as mellow and melodious, his lyrics as poetry set to music, though he himself says they do not stand alone as poems: "The words and the music are born together."