NEW RECORDING Mojo November 1997

Former Deacon Blue frontman parts company with Sony, sets up his own label, and is'unplugged'for his second solo LP.

Never quite forgiven for kowtowing to commercialism with singles like Real Gone Kid, Ricky Ross and Deacon Blue got lost in the stadium-rock wilderness for years, then finally trundled to a halt. Last year, Ross's solo debut What You Are did little to appease his critics, but New Recordings - which showcases his most engaging portfolio of songs since Raintown - might just win him an unexpected reprieve.

The stripped- down approach helps bring focus and intimacy to the cryptic narratives, as Ross switches between acoustic guitar and piano, adding subtle samples, strings and the odd ghostly shudder of Hammond for colour.

Thankfully, her indoors - aka Lorraine McIntosh - no longer echoes her man relentlessly on the choruses, but makes a one-off appearance on The Further North You Go instead. Not a return to form exactly but a large step in the right direction. James McNair