If this summer was defined by great singles from the likes of L-Space, Half-Formed Things, Errant Boy, and Radiophonic Tuckshop, to name just a few, then it looks as if Autumn is going to spoil us with some special albums. With the nights fair drawing in, the music featured this month shares a suitably reflective sensibility as some of our finest songwriters sing their songs accompanied by, and often collaborating with, like-minded musicians – warming hearts, firing minds and nourishing the soul as they do so.
We start with Annie Booth, who may be familiar to you for her work with Mt Doubt (more of whom later). Her solo album, An Unforgiving Light, is released in collaboration with Scottish Fiction and Last Night From Glasgow. It’s a wonderful collections of songs which work on their own but which make much more sense heard together, each feeding into the next. The songs are self-reflective in a manner similar to Elliot Smith and Cat Power, with Booth’s vocals carrying more than a hint of Jenny Lewis and even Beth Gibbons. Mournful, moving and magical, An Unforgiving Light is a record to treasure. This is the first single, ‘Chasm’:
Best Girl Athlete is Katie Buchan, a musician who has been making and releasing great music since her mid-teens (check out 2015’s Carve Every Word as evidence), and who just gets better as time goes by. Her latest release is a self-titled album on Aberdeen’s Fitlike Records, an eclectic collections of songs which showcase Buchan’s vocals – occasionally world-weary yet always heartfelt, as if she just wasn’t made for these times. The music makes great use of sparing yet effective electronica married to acoustic guitar, piano and brass. This mix allows the music to change pace not only across the album, but often within the same song, while that voice always remains at the fore. Perhaps the best example of this is on ‘In Your Head’, but once you’ve listened to that be assured that there are 9 other songs just as good waiting for you:
While we’re talking great albums, one nailed-on to be among the more discerning music lovers best of 2017 lists is Siobhan Wilson’s There Are No Saints. You can read Ali’s full review of the album over at Product Magazine, but we’re not dealing in the past just yet as Siobhan features right here and now on Ewan Cruickshanks’ debut single ‘Dreams’, released on Armellodie. Lo-fi and loving it – the harmonies, guitars and melodies work beautifully together to make the sort of effortless pure-pop records few make anymore. Once heard it will stay in your head for ages – just see if I’m not right:
You’d think this was all carefully planned, but it is by pure coincidence that we move onto further inspired collaboration as Blue Rose Code (Ross Wilson) teams up with the ethereal Julie Fowlis for ‘Love Is…’ taken from the forthcoming album The Water Of Leith. Blue Rose Code don’t make bad records, and if you haven’t yet fallen for them then you have quite the back catalogue awaiting you. But why not start the affair right here as ‘Love Is…’ shows Wilson’s exemplary songwriting at its very best, and accompanied by not just one of the finest voices around, but other musicians to match. To make music this apparently effortless yet undeniably affecting is something special, and Blue Rose Code are very special indeed:
While we’re breaking your heart, let me introduce you to The Sweetheart Revue, whose debut album The Silence And The Common Sense is out on Fox Star Records. At the top of the page I made rather grand promises for the albums featured in this review, but this one ticks all of those boxes and more. Indie and Americana come together to make music where Camera Obscura meets with, and greets with, Lambchop, and, as with both of those bands, The Sweetheart Revue use melodies and harmonies to enhance Gerard Sampaio’s heart-rending songs. This is a record which promises to become a firm favourite, one to be pulled out in times of need to help make sense of life and love. Who could ask for more?
The Deportees are another Aberdeen-based band, once more emphasising what many people already know – that the local music scene there continues to thrive. They have a new single out, ‘A Single Truth’, which is taken from their forthcoming album The Birth Of Industry. It is reminiscent of Scots Whay Hae! favourites Errant Boy, but also the early days of The Waterboys and Hothouse Flowers with shimmering acoustic guitar alongside chiming electric. If you like your rock with roots then The Deportees are all set to be your new favourite band. This is ‘A Single Truth’:
But let’s finish as we started, with talk of Mt Doubt. Their album In Awe Of Nothing is one of the best records of recent years, and every home should have one. Their latest single, ‘Mouthwash’, is a AA-side shared with Scottish Fiction label-mates Acrylic and their song ‘Where I Lie’. It was a close run thing as to who would feature on this review, but any song which begins with the lyric “I feel like I’ve been beaten half to death by Forest Whitaker” cannot go without mention and praise. When you add vocal melodies and a keyboard riff Vince Clarke would die for, then this becomes a track to lift you up and get you going. Just what’s needed after all that introspection:
That’s yer whack for this month, but be here soon for the good music continues…