Songdog have played support to artists as diverse as Hal Ketchum, Willard Grant Conspiracy and Johnny Dowd, but their work is far too interesting and individual to be properly assimilated in the support context. Songdog's first album, The Way Of The World, was one of the most strongly individual releases of 2001, and to be honest, it took me a while to get my head round its unique ambience and its darkly strange and compelling brand of singer-songwriter/alt. folk/alt. country. In one major respect at least, Haiku brings us more of the same - in other words, twelve more striking songs by Lyndon Morgans, accompanied once again by guitarist Karl Woodward and multi-instrumentalist Dave Paterson. Lyndon's songs might most accurately be described as contemporary art-songs - titles like She Hangs In The Dark Like A Saint In A Cathedral are typical of the priceless imagery they contain - and thus reflect his literacy and quirky poetic sensibility. Generally, the songs inhabit a pretty desolate emotional landscape, and comprise uniformly passionate tales, mostly concerning loss and/or love. They're characterised by a bitter-sweet melancholy that's counterpointed by a peculiarly offbeat humour, and ooze an extreme and deeply knowing eroticism - a positively heady combination! The musical soundworld is often akin to early Cowboy Junkies in its eerily brooding, cutting, minimal intensity (I can almost hear Margo on Hat Check Girl, which comes on like a sexy out-take from the Trinity Session, for instance). And hey, nobody else writes quite like Lyndon, though now and again it's possible to discern resonances of distinctive songwriters like Tom Waits, David Bowie, Nick Drake, and of the beat poets, notably Allen Ginsberg. Nobody else sounds quite like Lyndon either - sure, his emphatically pained, anguished singing style can take some getting used to (I'm occasionally reminded of Reuben's Train, or perhaps a higher-register version of Brett from the Handsome Family), but the rewards for your perseverance are many. So if anything, Haiku is an even more impressive batch of songs than The Way Of The World, and it's well worth spending the time getting acquainted with Songdog's extraordinary music.

David Kidman,