COLIN MACDUFF – The Past And The Sky (own label)

The Past And The SkyColin Macduff’s The Past And The Sky is home-spun like a Tweed River Scottish fisherman’s thatched fishing creel, filled with folk music with the rich melodic colour of a reflective deep depth rainbow trout.

Put simply: This is a lovely Scottish singer-songwriter record filled with acoustic care, hushed passion, a slight bluesy pulse, and lyrical wisdom.

The first song, ‘To Hear You Sing’, twinkles like a distant star, and is a simple and absolutely beautiful melodic memory of youthful joy, remembered in the clever metaphor of a never forgotten long ago “morning star” song, for which we “always long”. And truly, the tune evokes the patient introspection of (the great!) Ralph McTell’s early tunes when he touched such timeless sincerity with songs like ‘Mrs. Adlam’s Angels’, ‘Girl On A Bicycle’, and ‘Kew Gardens’.

The same is true for the brief ‘Leaving’ and the title song, ‘The Past And The Sky’, both of which sing with expectant autumnal foot stepped mystery.

That said, ‘Mirrors, Walls, and Windows’ catches the blues vibe (also an early McTell footprint!) with a clever lyric and a friendly Jenna Reid violin fun house ride. Nice.

Then, ‘A Gardener With A Swing’, once again, returns to a quiet acoustic moment that evokes a much better Romantic past. The melody twists in eternal contemplation of the forever and a day lost “garden”.

Ditto for two pensive songs. The gorgeous ‘You’ (perhaps an ode to a newborn) has a soft vocal and sympathetic accordion (Thank you, Angus Lyon!) with a mention a “fine catch of stars. The tune has a tender touch.  And ‘A Last Dance’, with spoken vocal, simply drips Sunday morning memory emotion. Nice, once again.

Now, it’s just an idea, but The Past And The Sky is quite ripe for this odd current vinyl revival moment, as a young generation is stretching a post-iPod download moment into (heaven forbid!) a never-before known thing called (!!!) an attention span—a new revelation that discovers the fruits of a side long grooved journey that spins through a series of truly great songs. Not only that, but these songs beg (heaven forbid, again!) to be played over and over, and with that new-found patience, they also reveal their countless synapse pleasing nuances.

Of course, there are no surprises here for the aged album aficionados from the 70’s (many of whom had a greater chance of winning a big Lotto prize than having a date on a Friday night), who discovered an attention span stretching audio addiction long ago, just like (to get all historical about it!) Leif Erikson bumped into America years before all the other much younger upstarts ever set sail.

As my friend, Kilda Defnut, always says, “Thank goodness the world, like any good record, is always round”.

That also said, the deeps nuances continue to reveal themselves. ‘Blue Lullaby’, again, mines early waltzed singer-songwriter territory with the added violin (Thank you, Jenna Reid).  The same is true for the deep and pure acoustic beauty of ‘Glasgow’s Glow’, which melodically wakes in a featherbed, with a wonder of a previous night’s remembered magic. The music conjures the Scottish beauty of (the great) Archie Fisher, who, with brilliant albums like The Man With A Rhyme, Will Ye Gang, Love, and his first eponymous album recorded in 1968 and produced by Bill Leader, was a cornerstone of early Scottish folk music.   

This is all followed by a bit of Americana. ‘The Graveyard Of The Grand’ is up tempo, slightly bluesy, and bleeds a spooky piano graced (and almost French) vibe. There’s more blues with the accordion propelled ‘Dog Days’.

And, finally, ‘Glide’, simply sings, magically, into the open promise of any home-spun thatched fishing creel, with a soft landing, that nests the rich deep depth melodic sound of the always abundant River Tweed as it flows with the reflection of a rainbow trout and cuts its current grooves into a pretty great Scottish folk music record album.

Bill Golembeski

Seller’s website:

‘Glide’ – official video: