Scottish folkie Davy Lees has returned with a new album titled One of Those Days. This recording encompasses a wide range of selections, placing contemporary (and at times lesser known) works alongside the folk canon’s universally sung standards…with a few Lees originals along the way.
Indeed it is an original which kicks off proceedings, in the form of the light hearted, but clever, ragtime(y) title track. It is an enjoyable and relatable starter, followed by ‘Black Is The Colour’; a song of Scottish origin, but popularised in the Appalachian Mountains and with roots, branches and ultimately, other versions, in other traditions. Lees, of course, draws from the Scottish version, perhaps adopted from the songbook of fellow Lanarkshire folkie, Hamish Imlach.
The lovely self-penned, ‘Weekend Waltz And Eva’s Waltz’ follows; initially providing vignettes of the lives of the song’s protagonists; ‘”Jennifer” who sits in her usual chair, the “man all alone” who drinks bourbon and wishes he “had a lady to phone” and “Mary and Jim”, still in love after all these years. It is enjoyable and sweet and it’s easy to get swept up in the lyric when the chorus comes in:
“One, two, three, back two, three, all round the floor,
You smile to your partner and you go round once more,
They don’t have much money, but they’ve got romance,
The Weekend Waltz is their dance.”
While Lees’ original work is noteworthy in its own right, it is in the choice of covers where this album is particularly strong, featuring Woody Guthrie’s ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’, sung with tremendous conviction, ‘Was It You’, by the late Ewan Carruthers and Allan Taylor’s ‘Los Compañeros’.
However, there are also choices of covers which do feel misplaced on the recording, namely ‘Dead Puppies’. Don’t get me wrong, (I know no puppies were harmed in the recording of the track) and I imagine it getting a good laugh for its shock value in a live environment, but in the studio it just doesn’t work and feels like a very long three and a half minutes, to hear the same sort of dead dog jokes cracked (r)over and over and over again.
Thankfully, the rest of the album is salvaged, as Lees hooks us back in with ‘The Ballad Of St Anne’s Reel’, the aforementioned Taylor number and the brilliant ‘Close It Down’ by Ivan Drever; a ballad of deindustrialisation and worker obsoletion, which namedrops the 1992 closure of the Ravenscraig Steel Works in Lees’ hometown of Motherwell, before concluding the record with the traditional ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
Christopher James Sheridan
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Artist’s website: http://www.davylees.scot/
We resisted temptation on grounds of taste so here’s ‘Weekend Waltz’ live: