Quirkiness and, um, a sheepish charm

Special to The Times

Quirkiness is a thing for Scottish singer-songwriter Colin MacIntyre. He records lush, pretty music under the name Mull Historical Society, which is an actual group in his tiny former island home of Mull. And during his Tuesday performance at Largo, the London resident displayed an offbeat sense of humor that sharply contrasted with his thoughtful, yearning songs.

On this first of two scheduled local dates (including a Knitting Factory appearance Wednesday), MacIntyre joked to his small audience that one tune was about getting romantic with sheep, played sheep noises at the end of his hourlong set and even had with him a versatile keyboardist named Sheepy.

Animal metaphors popped up often in selections from his sprawling second album, “Us,” as well as 2001’s “Loss.” But all the fanciful talk of seagulls and critters riding a bus seemed partly designed to leaven the actual content of MacIntyre’s work, which had a Brian Wilson-esque sincerity and sense of isolation in its ruminations on love, need and self-image.

Stripped to guitar, voice and keyboards, most songs retained the melodic charm of the plusher albums, with “The Final Arrears” standing out as absolutely gorgeous, light and lilting yet pensive and forlorn.


MacIntyre’s fondness for nonconformity wasn’t limited to lamentation, however.

Although he mourned how modern life swallows up individuality on “Barcode Bypass,” about a shopkeeper’s demise due to a bigger store’s arrival, he also took revenge with “The Supermarket Strikes Back,” in which the new establishment’s owner subsequently feels remorse for ruining the town’s way of life.