French songwriter Arno Sojo has some form playing and singing in a number of bands over the past ten years. Most notably with his own band Sojo Glider, which led to three albums, and some interesting collaborations. Sweet Gum Tree is a solo album and here he’s decided to go down a decidedly laidback, broadly acoustic route.

Redhead opens the album and it’s a pointer to what the rest is like: a deceptively simple and sparse construction, with neatly folded in strings. (The album is at times heavily orchestrated but never sounds out of place or shunted in.) The song drifts along on bobbing piano riff that is very pleasant. New Rays’ intro for a moment brings to mind Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, though this is very soon dispelled with the song actually having distinctly proggy feel to it.

Elsewhere, Bird of Passage featuring Isobel Campbell, and the short, jaunty Chew Up Spit Out stand out. The album lulls at times as it ambles into long beaches, blue skies and hammock mode. But he does pull of a trick with Grateful as Fire, abruptly darkening the tone halfway through. The album finishes strongly with the oddly Twin Peaksish November Daughter and Breathtaker in which Sojo goes for it with a lengthy sophisticated, song of changing moods; lushly orchestrated to start then deftly changing direction to little more than a drum and guitar as it gently peters out on the strings.

It’s an easy album to put on and get lost in, if you are in right mood. There’s nothing to really jar the listener being a sort of comfort blanket of an album, if you let it take over. It’s also an album that one could put on, easily forget about and decide the ironing needs to be done. Handle with care.