BOB LESLIE – Land and Sea (Big Red Records. Big Red 3)

Land And SeaFollowing 2010’s In a Different World and 2011’s Fat Cat, Land and Sea is the third release in the discography of Bob Leslie, and it offers a dozen tales, some from history and others from the heart, but all of which are well informed, well composed and personally felt in their delivery. The record opens with one of its standout tracks, ‘The World Came To Springburn’, a lament to the area’s industrial past, which fuses the echoes of rose-tinted history with modern day reality, in a style which, at times, is on a par with some of the folk canon’s past masters. The record continues with the broadly sung ‘The Seanachai’, the beautifully played ‘Sir Alexander Leslie’ and ‘Bess Millie’, with a strong vocal take which draws in the listener immediately.

The upbeat, ‘Ah Wid Dance Wi Ye Darlin’ is another of Land and Sea’s standouts. Lyrically well written, the piece still allows the accompanying instrumentation (as provided by Avril Cleland, Bernadette Collier, Kate Kramer and Wendy Weatherby) enough room to breathe and really add to the song. It is worth noting however, following this track into the last third of the album, there appears to be less emphasis on the broad Scots pronunciation as used by Leslie in the album’s first two thirds. More of an observation than a criticism, it just feels as though perhaps the order of the track list could have been juggled slightly, in order to avoid such a noticeable shift.

Nonetheless, the album continues and concludes strongly with the (fairly eclectic) last portion of the record, featuring two of Leslie’s more light-hearted compositions, as well as Spanish Civil War ballad, ‘The Church Of San Pedro, El Viejo’ and ‘Me And Kenny’; a simultaneous ode to friendship on the road and an endearingly honest tale of homesickness. Good stuff.

Christopher James Sheridan

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Artist’s website: http://www.bobleslie.scot/

‘The World Came To Springburn’ – live: