KING CREOSOTE-FROM SCOTLAND FROM LOVE.

KING CREOSOTE-FROM SCOTLAND FROM LOVE.

At this time of the year, Scottish artists start to think of the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. It’s the most prestigious Scottish musical award. So the great and good of Scottish music wait with baited breath the announcement of the long-list of twenty. It’s then narrowed down to just ten albums. A winner is then announced at the  Scottish Album Of The Year Award ceremony in June. That’s where artists will be hoping to join R.M. Hubbert, and Bill Wells and Aiden Moffat and Young Fathers, the last three award winners. This year, the award  covers the fifteen month period between 1st January 2014 and 31st March 2015, and features one of the strongest field. Scottish music is in rude health. However, some artists are bound to feature on the long-list, including King Creosote.

There aren’t many artists who’ve released over forty albums. Scottish singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson has. However, many people won’t have heard of Kenny Anderson. They will have heard of King Creosote.

King Creosote is just one of a number of aliases Kenny Anderson records records under. He’s been a one man music making machine since 1995. That’s when he formed his own label Fence Records. After that, there was no stopping Kenny. 

Kenny went onto record as the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra, Khartoum Heroes, Kid Canaveral and Jokes. He also collaborates with Jon Hopkins. They record together as The Burns Unit. Another of their other collaborations proved hugely successful. King Creosote and Jon Hopkins released Diamond Mine in 2011. It resulted in them being nominated for the Mercury Prize. Since then, King Creosote’s music has been reaching a much wider audience.

Especially since King Creosote teamed up with Domino Records. They co-release some of King Creosote’s albums. This has helped to spread the word about the delights of  King Creosote far and wide.  King Creosote’s latest album is From Scotland From Love which was recently released by Domino Records.

From Scotland With Love is a the soundtrack to a documentary feature film directed by Virginia Heath. The film was commissioned as part of the Cultural Festival, which accompanied the 2014 Commonwealth Games  in Glasgow.

During the Commonwealth Games, a screening of From Scotland With Love took place on Glasgow Green. It was accompanied by live music. This was fitting. After all, Glasgow Green has been the scene of many memorable musical events. The screening of From Scotland With Love was just the latest.

As films go, From Scotland With Love is quite unusual. The seventy-five minute film features no dialogue. That’s not surprising. The documentary was created entirely from archive film material from the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Screen Archive. With no voiceover, Virginia Heath decided to add a musical backdrop. That’s where King Creosote came in.

Virginia Heath brought King Creosote onboard. “We came to Kenny because we felt he had a great storytelling ability in his lyrics. We knew that to get across some of the complexity of the sequences we wanted, we needed someone who could translate feelings and stories into song.” 

King Creosote does this wonderfully well on From Scotland With Love. He gets to the nub of the themes that run through the film. This includes love, loss, resistance and migration. There’s a reminder of how Scotland has changed when the film touches on urbanisation and emigration. many Scottish people emigrated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the fifties and sixties. From Scotland With Love also shows Scotland at work and play. There’s a sense of sadness too. Especially when reminders of Scotland’s past. 

Back then, shipbuilding, heavy industry and the fishing industry, were just three of Scotland’s industrial heavyweights. Not any more. Tragically, they’ve been brought to their knees. Another sense of sadness is when From Scotland With Love touches on the war. Far too many Scottish people died in battlefields around the world. From Scotland With Love is a reminder of that.

For From Scotland With Love, King Creosote wrote eleven tracks. This took place during  composing session in a studio near Loch Fyne. For King Creosote, the surrounding beauty proved inspirational. Now he was ready to record From Scotland With Love.

Recording of From Scotland With Love took place at Chem 19 Studios, Blantyre. David McAulay produced From Scotland With Love. Ex-Delgado and now seasoned producer Paul Savage, also helped on From Scotland With Love. Paul had worked with King Creosote on his 2009 album Flick the Vs and his 2013 album That Might Well Be It, Darling. The band that accompanied King Creosote were similarly experienced.

At Chem 19 Studios, King Creosote’s band included a rhythm section of drummers Paul Savage and Andy Robinson who also played percussion. Pete Macleod played bass and David McAulay played electric and acoustic guitar, keyboards, synths, banjo, mandolin, percussion and added backing vocals. Derek O’Neil played piano, keyboards and organ. Kevin Brolly of Admiral Fallow played clarinet. Two members of Meursault, violinist Kate Miguda and cellist Pete Harvey made guest appearances. Asher Zaccardelli and Emma Peebles played viola. Backing vocalists included Jenny Reeve, Grant Keir, ex-Delgado Emma Pollock, Jim Sullivan of Sparrow and The Workshop and Louise Abbot of Admiral Fallow and the Beatroute Street Singers. Quite simply, an all-star case of musicians accompanied King Creosote on From Scotland With Love. It was released on 21st July 2014.

On the release of release of From Scotland With Love on 21st July 2014, it was critically acclaimed. So was Virginia Heath’s film. When several generations of Scots saw the film it seemed to strike a chord. People from eight to eighty looked back on Scotland’s past. Poignant, heartbreaking, joyous, uplifting and funny, memories came flooding back. For King Creosote, he was winning friends and influencing people with From Scotland With Love, which I’ll tell you about.

The wistful and beautiful Something To Believe In opens From Scotland With Love. A lone accordion sets the scene for King Creosote’s needy, hopeful vocal as he longingly sings: “you promised me a feeling, Something To Believe In.” As he sings, a piano and slow, steady drums add to the sense of melancholy.

Cargill is a song the refers to the part fishing has played in Scotland’s history. Kenny’s lyrics are truly poignant. Especially the lyric: “the dread of counting home the fleet, the sudden thrill of seeing that you’re back.” Again, there’s a sense of drama and sadness in the song. That comes courtesy of pounding piano, drums and melancholy strings. Along with a female vocal, they provide the backdrop for his vocal. It’s delivered with feeling and sincerity, as he paints pictures with his lyrics.

Largs for those unfamiliar with its delights, is a affluent seaside town just twenty miles from Glasgow. It’s where generations of Glaswegians have headed for a day out, or even holiday. That’s what this song is about. Instantly, King Creosote brings back memories. The song explodes into life. Strings swirl, drums pound and clarinet provide athe galloping arrangement. It provides the backdrop for King Creosote. He sings about ice creams, broken deck chairs, sea, sun and promises of romances for some. Not for others. It’s knock backs all the way. A wistful, wiser King Creosote’s sings against an understated backdrop: “maybe kid on I’m from Largs.”

Just thoughtful keyboards open Miserable Strangers. That’s before an acoustic guitar and sweeping strings enter. It’s a truly beautiful backdrop for King Creosote’s vocal. His vocal is tinged with sadness, as he sings about being one of a generation of Scots who emigrated in the fifties and sixties. He’s standing at the quay, tears in eyes and doubts in his mind. Eventually, he decides it’s for the best. So, he puts on a brave face. Strings sweep and swirl, a choir sings and the rhythm section provide the backdrop for a soul-baring vocal. All this results in a truly beautiful, but heartbreaking songs. Without doubt, it’s a long time since I heard a more powerful song.

Just pensive strings, acoustic guitar and drums accompany King Creosote on a story with a twist in its tale. He sings about a crofter struggling to make a living out the land their father worked. King Creosote’s weary vocal brings home their struggle to make ends meet. However, it’s not all bad. He sings: “that’s when I clap eyes upon my lass, and I find I’m singing like a lark.” Quite simply, poignant and beautiful.

For One Night Only tells the story of a Scot’s couple heading out for a night on the town. They’ve saved all week and now it’s time to celebrate. Firmly strummed guitars build the drama. Then pounding drums and sweeping strings join in. Last but not least is King Creosote’s vocal. His vocal is a mixture of joy and relief. He’s worked all week and wants to celebrate. Shrewdly, his wife is pocketing the change. After all, there’s still the rest of the week to go. Handclaps accompany King Creosote during this joyous, rocky track that paints a picture of a million Friday nights in the West of Scotland.

Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123 begins with children singing and clapping their hands. It sounds like the type of traditional rhyme children used to sing when they played in the streets. It is. They’re singing about becoming a fisherman’s wife. King Creosote sings from the point of view of the view fisherman. He’s accompanied by acoustic guitar and handclaps. His vocal is a mixture bravado, pathos and sadness. It’s as if death is almost inevitable for a fisherman. Especially when he sings about being buried: “beside my only brother, my coffin shall be black.”

Strings and a shuffling beat provide the backdrop for King Creosote’s needy vocal. Later, a Hammond organ and tender harmonies sweep in. His vocal is tinged with equal amounts of sadness and hope. Sometimes King Creosote reminds me of Lloyd Cole. Always though, he’s a troubled troubadour who breaths life and meaning into lyrics. Especially here, were he croons his way through the track.

Crystal 8s is an atmospheric instrumental. The arrangement shimmers and quivers, drawing you in. After that, a wistful acoustic guitar makes its way across the arrangement as it draws to an atmospheric close.

Paupers Dough one of the most poignant songs on From Scotland With Love. It has an understated, piano lead arrangement. The lyrics are tinged with social comment. They’re about a group of brave, determined people who demanded social justice. They wanted a better life for them and their families. That’s apparent from the lyrics: “and I want better for my boy, to bury my father in dry desecrated ground.” A truly poignant song designed to make you think and be thankful, for those brave, determined people.

Closing From Scotland With Love is A Prairie Tale. It’s another instrumental. Wistful, melancholy strings tug at your heartstrings. They’re a reminder of Scotland’s rich musical heritage. The track also has a cinematic quality, which encourages your imagination to run riot. 

I can’t rate From Scotland With Love highly enough. It’s easily one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. Without doubt, From Scotland With Love was on the list of best albums of 2014. That’s testament to a hugely talented singer-songwriter, King Creosote.

Since 1995, Kenny Anderson, a.k.a. has been a musical machine. He’s released over forty albums. From Scotland With Love has to be a coming of age musically from King Creosote. Especially given the themes that run through From Scotland With Love. This includes love, loss, resistance and migration. There’s also a reminder of how Scotland has changed because of urbanisation and emigration. From Scotland With Love deals with Scotland and work and play. Scotland has always been a country who work and play hard. This is apparent on From Scotland With Love.

King Creosote sings of holidays in Largs. That was where people from the West of Scotland went on holiday. Some still do. It’s songs like Largs that make From Scotland With Love an album that will appeal to  anyone between the age of eight and eighty. Any Scot will be able to relate to From Scotland With Love. Having said that, From Scotland With Love will appeal to much more than Scottish people.

Why? From Scotland With Love is a beautiful, joyous, melancholy, poignant, uplifting and wistful album. The music tugs at your heartstrings. Especially, when King Creosote is delivering vocals that are heartfelt, hopeful, needy, joyous and inspirational. King Creosote is the latest in a  long line of Scottish troubadours. His Magnus Opus, From Scotland With Love, marks a coming of age from Scotland’s newly crowned musical King, King Creosote, whose sure to be a contender for 2015s Scottish Album Of The Year Award.

KING CREOSOTE-FROM SCOTLAND FROM LOVE.

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