Lavinia Blackwall is already a well-known name in many circles. Her work with prolific Glaswegian psych-folk outfit Trembling Bells having earned her a reputation as one of the best voices in the scene, many critics having likened her singing prowess to that of Sandy Denny. Along with Trembling Bells she has released seven full-length albums and performed as the backing band to folk legends Bonnie Prince Billy and The Incredible String Band’s Mike Heron. Now she is striking out on her own with the release of her debut solo album Muggington Lane End which is out on May 1st.
Recorded live, the album is a mixture of wistful longing, joyful exuberance, wheeling psychedelia and classic songwriting. Listening to it, you wouldn’t believe that many of the vocals on the record were recorded in one take, though that’s the kind of faultless performance the classically trained soprano has become known for. Muggington Lane End began its journey back in 2018, with two tracks (‘Waiting For Tomorrow’ and ‘All Seems Better’) being recorded with former bandmates Mike Hastings and Simon Shaw.
“They were in a previous incarnation of what I thought my solo project would be, called Orion’s Belt” explains Blackwall, however when she got together with partner and collaborator Marco Rea the project started to shift. “I realised I could get a fresh band together, seeing as Mike and Simon were very busy with their own projects”.
Working with a new group of people breathed life into the project and the Orion’s Belt moniker was ditched in favour of Lavinia Blackwall, perhaps an indicator that this would become the singer and multi-instrumentalist’s most personal work yet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a group so committed to working on arrangements, timings and feel. I just love it,” she says. “Marco is a fantastic producer, who pushes me to see things through, consider ideas I’d never have thought about and also just gets what I’m trying to do. We work so easily together”. A sentiment that translates audibly on record.
Lead single ‘John’s Gone’ harks back to 60’s style songwriting, telling the tale of an oddball named John in a style reminiscent of Beatles’ classic ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’. Lavinia’s storytelling skills are artfully showcased throughout the record, Muggington Lane End’s most common thread being the notion of dreaming and escapism.
Muggington Lane End may still incorporate elements of Lavinia’s work with Trembling Bells however it also feels like a step towards a more authentic voice from the singer, singing songs from her own perspective.
“I love every song, performance and recording and am so proud of the work everyone has put into making it,” she says, and that love really shines through.
Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/LaviniaJBlackwall/
‘John’s Gone’ – official video:
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