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

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the BOB LESLIE – Land and Sea link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

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

‘The World Came To Springburn’ – live:

AMANDA ANNE PLATT & THE HONEYCUTTERS – Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (Organic Records OR 16902)

HoneycuttersAmanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters (formerly known simply as The Honeycutters) is the fifth Long Player from the group and is available in the UK from August 4th, coinciding nicely with their first ever British tour. While there are folkie and rocky influences within this album, it is most noticeably a radio-friendly country affair, and one which showcases Platt’s immense talent for songwriting as well as the Honeycutter’s musical ability. In her own words Platt notes the album to be “…about life and all that entails” and like life (and like country music) great beauty and great sadness intertwine throughout. There are hellos, goodbyes, birthdays, deaths and many other bittersweet observations, yet it is by no means a gloomy record.

Opener, ‘Birthday Song’, ‘What We’ve Got’ and ‘Rare Thing’ are all thematically linked by a yearning for the past, but are also all written from a surprisingly contented vantage point, while the upbeat ‘The Things We Call Home’ simply celebrates the little joys of everyday life…and what’s wrong with that? However, as noted, this contentment is paired with melancholy, particularly in numbers like ‘Eden’, ‘Brand New Start’ and the poignant lament ‘Learning How to Love Him’, whose protagonist reflects on the challenges, triumphs and regrets of a four decade marriage, concluding that after raising children, raising voices, making mistakes and making choices, “This is what love is”.

However, Platt and co. arguably keep the best for last, departing with ‘The Road’, a simple, yet breathtakingly well-written song of parting and break up; bowing out on the lines “If time and distance make us strangers, Change our hearts and rearrange us, I’ll look forward to the day, my new eyes look upon your face, And recognize the smile of an old friend…I hope the road is good to you, til then”.

With great musicianship and story-telling songs which ring true to real life, it is hard to have any complaints about this album, and it is one of which Platt and her Honeycutters should be very proud.

Christopher James Sheridan

Artist’s website: www.honeycutters.com

 

‘The Road’ – live: