BETWEEN THE RIVER & RAILWAY - CLAIRE HASTINGS
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 29th April, 2016
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Record Label: Luckenbooth Records
After winning the prestigious 'BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year title in 2015', Dumfries folk singer and songwriter Claire Hastings released her exciting debut album 'Between River and Railway' last year. The album features exciting arrangements of traditional folk songs alongside Claire's self-penned material, which featureS band members Jenn Butterworth (guitar & vocals), Laura Wilkie (fiddle), Andrew Waite (accordion), Duncan Lyall (Bass), Martin o'Neill (percussion), Ali Hutton (electric guitar and synths) and Keir Long (keys, synths). It would be fair to say that Claire has one of the finest young voices in Scottish Folk. I'm a big fan of Claire pure vocal, her songwriting and arrangements. This high quality and exquisite album showcases them perfectly. Highly recommended.
Claire Hastings is originally from Dumfries. A graduate of the Scottish Music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Since winning the title she has performed at many high-profile events including BBC Proms in the Park with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra and at BBC Music Day, where she sang alongside Lulu, Jamie Cullum and Deacon Blue. Other performance highlights include singing for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in London’s National Theatre, at Orkney Folk Festival supporting Seth Lakeman, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and playing Nancy (Clarinda) McLehose in ‘A Man’s a Man’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Claire has featured on radio programmes across the UK and worldwide including BBC Radio Scotland’s The Culture Studio with Janice Forsyth and BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe. She has also had television appearances on BBC Alba and features prominently on the soundtrack for Anthony Baxter’s documentary; ‘You’ve Been Trumped Too’ (2016).
As well as performing, Claire is also involved in several teaching projects throughout Scotland. She teaches Scottish music, singing and ukulele in primary schools around Dumfries and Galloway through Feis Rois’ Youth Music Initiative and regularly teaches Voice at The Gaitherin (Aberdeenshire) and Feis an Iar Dheas (Dumfries). Claire is also qualified to teach early years Colourstrings and was involved with New Rhythms for Glasgow leading singing workshops for adults with mental health issues (GAMH).
Claire is also part of the traditional Scottish Band Top Floor Taivers (which has recently released a new album ‘A Delicate Game’ ) and she has also a duo with Robyn Stapleton.
The album with recorded by Keir Long and mixed by Andrea Gobbi at Carrier Waves Studio in Glasgow.
The album begins with a personal and original song 'The House At Rosehill' about her family life and her family home in Holywood. Claire is the fourth generation of her family to live there.
'The Bothy Lads' is a catchy traditional song from the North of England. It tells the story of a young woman wronged by a farmer worker (a 'bothy lad).
The heartfelt original song 'Son of No One' is based on the tragic true story of a boy who was left behind by his mother at an Irish home for unmarried mothers. With themes of Isolation, loneliness and waiting for his estranged mother to finally come and visit him. "No love ones for to speak of.......only shadows that remain......forgotten.....nobody's child"
"I Missed The Boat' is the result a of songwriting challenge that Claire accomplished to write a song with only 30 words
Based on a lesser known poem by Robert Burns 'The Poisie' has been a brand new arrangement from Claire. An underlying organ intro gives the song an almost church like quality and delicate keys adding of feeling of gently falling rain.
Based on the true story of a Glasgow safe-cracker Johnny Ramensky in the 20's and 30's the very catchy and uptempo 'Let Ramensky Go' is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's always special live. Johnny went on to crack safes in Germany during WW2 after being released from prison. He was granted a pardon for his wartime contribution.
Originally a children's hymn written by Jan Struther 'When A Knight Won His Spurs' receives a excellent new arrangement from Claire. The original was harmonised by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The hymn first appeared in Songs of Praise in 1931.
"Annie Laurie' was originally a poem written by William Douglas for his sweetheart Annie (daughter of Robert Laurie - the first Baronet of Maxwelton). The town sits on the banks of the Cairn, Dumfrieshire. Really lovely accordian from Andrew Waite complementing Claire's underlying ukelele and Jenn's acoustic guitar.
"Gretna Girls" tells the story of the women that worked in the munitions factory there in WW1. It was the largest factory of its kind in Britain. The working conditions there were often as dangerous as those of the soldiers. It was not only a dirty job, but dangerous and detrimental to the girl's health as well. The volatile cordite was at risk from lethal explosions, but it also turned their hair yellow and made their teeth fall out. For this, it was known as "Devil's Porridge".
The album closes with the wonderful, gentle and positive "Come Spend A While WI' Me'. It was the last song written by Lional McClelland a songwriter and instrumentalist from Moffat. The song fittingly is about making the most out of life and enjoying the company of the people we share it with. A fantastic sentiment and one to live by. A lovely solo from Laura Wilkie on fiddle. "You only get one chance......so join the dance.......and spend a while with me".