RURA – In Praise Of Home (Rura Music RURACD003)

In Praise Of HomeAlmost the first sound you hear is the voice of Steven Blake’s grandfather, James Russell, reflecting on his home in Montrose. Or rather the feeling of home, that sensation sailors used to call the channels, and that idea is really what In Praise Of Home is about. Later, we hear some of the story of David Foley’s grandmother, Sheila Littlejohn, who came to Scotland from Jamaica as a child.

Both Blake and Foley composed tunes inspired by these stories, the former being the opener and title track of what is otherwise a purely instrumental album. It segues effortlessly into the second track, Jack Smedley’s ‘The First Day’ which harks back to the band’s origins as an instrumental quartet, having gained and lost Adam Holmes in the interim. The track, opening with keyboard drones, quickly morphs into the most traditional sounding tune on the record and will be released as a single.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be and the band turn to other sources of inspiration for a while. ‘Malice Member’ was inspired by Jack Badcock and ‘Catriona’s’ by Catriona Price and I refuse to speculate on what might have prompted Foley to write ‘Lust In Translation’. Then comes his ‘Away Back’ with the voice of his grandmother. He took a step back while Blake, Smedley and Adam Brown wrote ‘The Gorilla’, inspired, apparently by a Gorillaz track.

Finally we come to two tracks linked as ‘Horizons Pts 1 and 2’. The first, Steven Blake’s ‘Below The Horizon’ is built around his Rhodes with Jack Smedley’s fiddle picking up a mournful melody. It’s my favourite track. Smedley composed the final ‘Journeys New’ which brings the whole album full circle but was the first track written. It’s built over Adam Brown’s guitar with the fiddle picking up the melody and features producer Euan Burton on Rhodes. Starting gently, it builds quickly to an appropriately exciting finish for a record that sees Rura moving on again.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Lust’ – live:

Rura announce new album

Rura

In Praise of Home is the new album from four-piece powerhouse Rura. The Scottish outfit, described as one of the most exciting bands on the Scottish folk scene today, will release their new album on Friday 1st June 2018.

With their last album (Despite the Dark) released in 2015, it is three years since RURA last produced a record. The foursome have taken their time to make sure their new material is as reflective of them as a band as possible, with their new release being their first ever exclusively instrumental album.

In Praise of Home features nine tracks of completely self-penned music that showcases a fresh and evolved sound from these four outstanding instrumentalists and celebrates a new chapter for the band.

Jack Smedley, one of the founding members and fiddle player in the band, said: “For us In Praise of Home celebrates our progression as a band – this was one of the biggest motivators behind us composing all of the music together as a four piece. The primary overarching theme for this album is all of us getting back to our roots as instrumentalists, composing and playing together as a group, whilst at the same time showcasing a progression in our sound. We’re pretty happy with the result and we hope listeners are too!”

Throughout the new album’s writing process, the group felt there was the opportunity within some of the music to feature spoken word and sampled audio. Sampled interviews with band member David Foley’s granny and Jack’s grandfather – both sharing stories of their home – can be heard on the album. This recognition of their ancestry and the places Rura to name both the opening track and the full album In Praise of Home.

Rura began in 2010, as award-winners at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. Since then Jack Smedley, Steven Blake, David Foley and Adam Brown’s powerful, entrancing instrumentals have been a main stage highlight of many of the world’s leading folk festivals, including Cambridge, Tønder, Winnipeg, Vancouver and HebCelt, amongst countless others in over 20 countries.

Enjoying a number of accolades over the past eight years, Rura were named Live Act of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards and nominated Folk Band of the Year in 2016.

Rura have affirmed their position as one of Scotland’s most powerful contemporary folk-based bands. Their rugged yet refined blend of fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, bodhran and guitar has won a devoted following in many corners of the globe, amongst audiences and critics alike.

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Rura will be taking their new album on tour throughout June this year, taking in 15 venues across the UK.

Artists’ website: www.rura.co.uk