SKERRYVORE new album ‘Evo’

Highly recommended album and you can read my review here

Skerryvore, one of Scotland’s finest musical exports, are gearing up to release their sixth studio album this weekend.

The multi award-winning eight piece male line-up, firm favourites on the festival scene, will launch Evo at their own signature festival, Oban Live, on Saturday June 9th just days before its official June 11 release on the Tyree Records label.

Skerryvore

Full of their trademark fusion of folk, trad, rock and Americana this heady brew of musicians hails from all corners of Scotland, each one bringing something different to the mix. Glasgow-based, Livingston-born lead singer and guitarist Alec Dalglish has penned five new songs that contrast with the belting tunes spread liberally across the 11 track release.

As with the definition of Evo, Skerryvore – named after a remote reef in western Scotland – have stealthily evolved their driving Celt-rock sound over the past 12 years. Formed in 2005 by Isle of Tiree-born Gillespie brothers Daniel (accordion) and Martin (Highland bagpipes), the band now boasts newest member Scott Wood on pipes and whistles, Ayrshire’s Craig Espie (fiddle) and Alan Scobie (keys), Aberdeenshire’s Jodie Bremaneson on bass and West Lothian’s Fraser West (drums).

No blade of grass stands a chance of growing under the feet of this energetic line-up. Twice winners of Scotland’s Traditional Music Awards coveted ‘Live Act of the Year’ (2016 and 2011) their upward trajectory has taken them from a small Hebridean island on a global journey often away from the well-trodden gig circuit for prestigious milestone performances in New York’s Central Park, at the Ryder Cup in Louisville and the Shanghai Expo, China.

Recorded at the renowned Castlesound Studios in East Lothian and Carriage House Studios in Conneticut, Evo is instantly engaging. An expectant drone kicks in for the haunting tour de force opening number – Martin Gillespie’s tongue-in-cheek tune The Exorcists, triggered by the band’s exorcising of spirits of a different kind from promoter Gordon MacKenzie’s Oman home in his absence. Mackenzie remarked: “If you want spirits removed from your house, call in the Skerries!” It segues into Scott Wood’s tune Donnie’s.

Opening at full throttle with that big emphatic sound of thundering drums and pipes, as rich as a Scottish single malt, it lays down the gauntlet for this captivating album that for 45 minutes draws you into another world that is vibrant and emotive in equal measures.

Dalglish’s songs start with At the End of the Line, with its opening keyboard refrain. With his engaging, clear voice he ponders the global touring shuttle “4000 miles in the sky till the wheels hit the ground” and the location of Paradise and concludes it is “where your people are”, totally changing the mood created in the opening number.

And this is what Skerryvore is so good at – migrating from the big blast numbers to the heartfelt reflective tracks.

Dalglish has these songs down to a fine art, from the infectious Hold On to the hopefulness of Waiting on the Sun and the catchy mainstream-nudging love song Take My Hand, released as a single.

Another stand out number is his life-affirming Live Forever, a remixed version of the original song recorded in Conneticut. It provided the soundtrack for Scottish Tourism’s ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign and hit No 1 in the iTunes World music chart last year, followed by a 70-date Live Forever tour of UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, The Netherlands and USA.

Craig Espie’s Mile High tune set apparently recalls his fainting episode on board a flight home from Spain, with little sympathy from his bandmates. But there’s nothing light-headed about this number which is fast and furious -Mile High Header being followed by the aptly-titled Momentum, with the pipes let loose.

Elsewhere there are covers of the late Aberdeenshire piper-composer Gordon Duncan’s lively and intricate tune Trip to Modera and Glaswegian songwriter Alex Wayt’s rocky song Borderline.

Soraidh Slan, a slow, respectful air composed and performed by Martin Gillespie, is the poignant penultimate track – a farewell to loved ones lost in 2017 before The Rise, also written by Martin, ends on an optimistic, upbeat note with all musicians at full pelt to bring the music full circle.

Skerryvore marked their 10th anniversary in 2016 with a “Decade” concert at Mossfield Stadium, Oban, selling 3,000 tickets in 90 minutes. The capacity was increased and 6,000 visitors enjoyed the event with guests including Dougie MacLean and Ireland’s Sharon Shannon.

Image result for oban Live logoIts success led to the creation of the band’s own annual festival Oban Live that has now attracted over 10,000 festivalgoers and become the biggest live music event in Argyll and Bute. The 2018 event (June 8 & 9) will witness the launch of Evo. http://obanlive.com/

This year sees Skerryvore embarking on another world tour that will include a headline performance at the famous Tonder Festival in Denmark and a date at the Brooklyn Bowl. In the UK they will be appearing at festivals including Shrewsbury, Wychwood and Moonbeams.

Classy and confident, this tight, talented line-up continue to set the bar high. Skerryvore -The Evolution – continues.

http://skerryvore.com/

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Elles Bailey announces her debut album ‘Wildfire’ and shares new single video ‘Same Flame’

Bristol-based Elles Bailey has a talent for crafting and seamlessly weaving rootsy blues, country, and soulful rock, with a contemporary edge. What’s more fate has blessed her with a ‘smoky vocal’ style that perfectly fits her music.

Elles’s trademark husky, lived-in voice may sound like this young songstress keeps up a 60-a-day habit, but was actually caused by a serious childhood illness. At the tender age of three, Elles contracted both viral and bacterial pneumonia. Ever-resilient, Elles recovered, but her voice had changed completely.  An ENT visit revealed no permanent damage, but as the specialist prophetically observed, “If she ever wants to sing, she’ll be a natural blues vocalist!”

Now, the miracle girl with the made-for-the-blues voice is about to release her debut album, ‘Wildfire’, on 1st September, 2017.

The opportunity to record ‘Wildfire’ arrived sooner than expected when a planned family road trip across the Southern States of the USA saw fate step in once more. “We’d arranged to cut a demo in Nashville along the route,” explains Elles, “You know, ‘when in Rome’ and all that? But what was meant to be just one solitary track took on a life of its own. Before I knew it, boom, we had a whole album!”

In Nashville, Elles drew together an amazing pool of musical and production talent and expertise, who were so taken with her that they went the extra mile (and then some), giving her not just the chance to create a demo, but to lay down an entire album!

“It was always my plan to release my debut album in 2017,” says Elles, “It had been a long time coming, but I could never have imagined getting the opportunity to make it in Nashville, at a studio like Blackbird Studios, where so many iconic albums have been made! I’m very excited about sharing this record with the world!”

Produced by Brad Nowell ‘Wildfire’ assembled a host of Nashville’s finest, including Grammy Award winner and two-time CMA ‘Musician of the Year’ Brent Mason on guitar, three-time ‘Musician Hall Of Famer’ Bobby Wood on piano, joined by Chris Leuzinger (Garth Brooks) on guitar, Mike Brignardello (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Amy Grant) on bass, Wes Little (Stevie Wonder, Melissa Etheridge) on drums, and even legendary Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Roger Cook came on board to help add some extra sparkle. Blended together back in the UK with the likes of Jonny Henderson (Robyn Ford, Matt Schofield) on Hammond organ and Joe Wilkins on blistering guitar, the result is a unique trans-Atlantic coming together of styles.

The single ‘Wildfire’ has already secured spot plays/sessions with Radio 2 and BBC London, Bob Harris and BBC Introducing and play listed on Planet Rock.

Having played extensively throughout Europe, and supported UK soulstress Jo Harman on her UK tour, Elles’ insatiable desire for live performance continues apace across the Summer of 2017, encompassing a series of headline shows and festival dates alike.

ALBUM PRE-ORDER LINK –http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/elles-bailey-wildfire

Tour Dates

June 
24th June             Buckle and Boots Country Festival, Manchester

July
8th July                Saddleback Blues Festival (main stage)
9th July                Richmond Music Festival
15th July              Rhythmtree Festival (main stage)
22nd July             Upton Blues Festival (main stage)
29th July              Café Rene Rhythm and Blues Festival 2017, Gloucester
12th August        Lakefest, Eastnor, Ledbury,
18th Aug              Old Bush Blues Festival, Callow End, Worcestershire
27th August        Great British Rhythm and Blues festival (main stage), Lancashire
29th August –       Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham (Special guest support for Lucky Peterson)

WEBSITE: www.ellesbailey.com
FACEBOOK:/www.facebook.com/ellesbailey
TWITTER: twitter.com/EllesBailey

Gig review: MATT ANDERSEN – Borderline, London, May 25 May 2017

My first time at the Borderline since its recent refurbishment and it was looking impressive, with trendy seating and bar. Luckily it keeps the same atmosphere for live gigs with the audience crowded round the small stage area.

William the Conqueror was the support act and he took to the stage with his acoustic guitar and bass drum. He did mention he normally toured with a full band but tonight he joked they were replaced by said bass drum. He had an easy going style, both in the music – a mix of blues and Americana – and between song chat – he thought the revamped venue looked like the set of ‘Blake’s Seven’ (I’d wager this refit cost more than that creaky old set!). His new album is due out on August 4 and will be one to investigate further based on tonight’s impressive performance which went down well with the crowd.

Matt Andersen is a Juno Awards nominated Canadian blues guitarist/singer, and tonight’s gig was his final date on his UK leg of his current European tour. Where to start? Let’s just say you need to see Matt Andersen live to fully appreciate him as his acoustic guitar playing is stunning and then there is his voice. I have rarely seen a singer pour so much passion into his singing, a real joy to behold and reinforces why live music is good for your soul and well-being. Take ‘Make You Stay’, he was all over his guitar, his head thrown back, eyes closed as he got into his own groove and took the audience along with him. Amazing to watch and hear.

He has a very laid back, friendly on stage presence and can even slip in some unexpected fun as could be heard on ‘Have You Got The Blues’, where midway through he started playing the theme tune ‘The Pink Panther’. There was audience participation on his version of the classic ‘People Get Ready’, as he has the “guys and gals” singing different backing parts and it made for a one of the evening’s highlights. Needless to say Matt had the audience on his side from the moment he walked onto the stage. Interestingly the audience was made up of a younger crowd than I expected with a few hardened blues fans dotted around the crowd, proof that good blues music and musicians, like folk and country, has the timeless sound and appeal to carry on through generations.

Go see Matt Andersen play when he is town near you as you won’t be disappointed.

Review by Jason Ritchie

Album review: JIM LAUDERDALE – London Southern

jl

Proper Records [Release date 03.02.17]

Jim Lauderdale recently won a lifetime achievement award from the US Amerciana Honors & Awards and is widely respected amongst his contemporaries. He has written songs with George Strait, Elvis Costello, Buddy Miller and John Oates (who returns the favour co-writing and singing backing vocals on a couple of songs on this album). The album was recorded in Balham, London – hence the album title – and features Nick Lowe’s band, along with producer Neil Brockbank.

Don’t be fooled by opener ‘’Sweet Time’, a traditional country and western song, as the rest of the album is a musical potpourri taking in blues, soul, Americana and even a little gospel on ‘What Have You Got To Lose’, which features the McCrary Sisters. There is a reflective air on many of the songs, from the heartfelt ‘We’ve Only Got So Much Time Here’ and ‘I Love You More’. Nice bit of rock ‘n’ roll guitar on ‘No Right Way To Be Wrong’. Indeed the musicianship is top notch throughout the album and coupled with Jim Lauderdale’s vocals, makes for a very satisfying and enjoyable album. It is easy to see why on the strength of this album alone, why he is held in such high regard by fellow musicians and fans alike. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie