THE WATER OF LEITH - BLUE ROSE CODE
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
- Artist: Blue Rose Code
- Genre: Celticana, Folk Singer-Songwriter
- Release Date: 27th October, 2017
- Record Label: Navigator Records
- Tracks: 12
- Website: http://www.bluerosecode.com/
The multi-award winning Ross Wilson aka Blue Rose Code always writes from the heart. Skillfully weaving his songs around places, personal experiences and lessons learned. The twelve new songs on his new album 'The Water Of Leith', are centered around the themes of love, loss, travel, home, accepting the past and embracing the future.
For the nomadic Ross ,'The Water Of Leith' is rooted in his return to his Scottish homeland. His triumphant return has been very fruitful, adding a new stellar group of musicians to his already rich sound. This very impressive group of musicians includes the multi-award-winning singer Julie Fowlis, celebrated Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, BBC Folk Award Winne, Ross Ainslie, 2017's Scottish Jazz Awards' instrumentalist of the year Konrad Wiszniewski, leading violinist Seonaid Aitken and three of Scotland's finest jazz musicians; John Lowrie, Colin Steele and James Lindsay. Further adding Jellyman's Daughter's Graham Coe and Emily Kelly plus many others. Ross co-produced this masterpiece with Angus Lyon.
The one thing that strikes you the most on the first listen is how richly layered and beautiful arranged this album is. It has a wonderful flow drifting from a Scottish Gaelic folk through Jazz and a more Americana based sound. But it never loses it's sense of purpose and belonging. Every song is a perfect bitter-sweet vinaigrette, a jewel sparkling in a rich soundscape tapestry, skilfully weaved around it's central themes. A special mention too for Seonaid Aitken for some fantastic string arrangements on the album
'The Water of Leith' opens with the rich beautiful piano led 'Over The Fields (For John)' a song of homecoming and belonging. The song is a heartfelt tribute to Ross’ friend John Wetton (King Crimson, Roxy Music, Asia), who passed away in January 2017. The combination of Ross' voice and John Lowrie‘s piano is really special. To add to this the song also includes vocals from Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman. Watch out too for the delicate whistle from Ross Ainslie.
There is a lovely sax solo in the gentle 'Bluebell' by the award winning Konrad Wiszniewski. It's a wonderful song of regret and lost love. The tempo rises in the catchy Latin beats of Ebb & Flow' encouraging us to 'Never try and find your hope in another's eyes'. A wonderful melody and lovely brass arrangement. It reminds me too of classic Van Morrison. I love too the great acoustic guitar, violin and accordion interplay on 'Passing Places'. It's interspersed by haunting and ethereal Gaelic vocals by Kathleeen McInnes, almost 'whispers in the wind'. It flows seamlessly into the beautiful Gaelic flavoured 'Sandaig' with Ross on lead vocals with backing vocals from Kathleen. A celebration of Scotland’s West Coast. "A clarion call.... cry for self determination, all along the west coast....and for social justice". The smooth and smoky jazz of 'Nashville Blue' follows. All jazz piano, brushed percussion and muted trumpet. Another song of heartfelt and personal reflection. “In spite of all my pretty words, I don’t know how to be in love”
We return to the Scottish feel for 'On the Hill Remains A Heart' with its Interesting percussive beats, string section and piano, accented with Ross Ainslie's pipes. A story of a love lost at war. The upbeat and positive 'Love Is......' features Julie Fowlis on backing vocals joined by Jellymans' Daughter Graham Coe and Emily Kelly. One of my favourites on the album and a taste of Ross' trademark Caledonian Soul is 'Polaris'. It has a real lovely Fleetwood Mac vibe on the harmonies. 'I'll cross the country to sing you a lullaby.......I'm coming home to you! You are the bright star in my sky! Watch out for Edwin Morgan‘s poem the vivid, rich and intensely beautiful 'Strawberries'.
Next almost 10 mins of music to get completely lost in and floating away to another space and time. 'The Water' is a chilled and layered piano, double bass and trumpet jazz instrumental. I'll leave this one to discover for yourself. You are totally chilled by the time you reach the reflective 'To The Shore', with an ending hinting at change and rebirth 'The water leads me back to the shore'. It has a rich haunting cinematic quality, you can really imagine it being part of an art house movie soundtrack. This super album finishes with the deeply personal and delicate piano led 'Child', which looks hopefully to the future, imparting worldly wise wisdom to the next generation.
'The Water Of Leith' showcases Ross Wilson's incredible gift of songwriting and arrangements, rightly winning him FATEA's 'Male Artist of the Year' for 2017. The future is very bright for Ross and his music. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed following his creative journey over the last four years and long may it continue.