Age 12 and just getting into the guitar, Scottish musician Malcolm MacWatt first heard Johnny Cash At San Quentin and was immediately hooked into country music. While a deep respect for country and bluegrass is evident in his songs and guitar playing, MacWatt freely shows his British folk roots citing John Martyn and Dick Gaughan as major influences. A Transatlantic Records promo featuring Pentangle and Fairport Convention introduced the idea that folk, rock, blues and jazz could be fused together in any combination.
A self-confessed “guitar geek” he moved to London in 2010 to study guitar-making with some of the UK’s top luthiers. He is the founding member of emerging London country band The Glass Mountains playing guitar, dobro and fiddle.
The idea of home, connection and a sense of belonging are recurrent themes in Malcolm MacWatt’s songwriting and feature heavily on his debut album Anywhere But Here. Pared down to the bare minimum, the austere production of voice and acoustic guitar allows the lyrical and melodic essence of these twelve songs to take priority, sometimes with brutal clarity.
This is a collection of deeply personal songs yet they invite the listener to look with their own eyes at love, loss, fear, guilt and loneliness. But it’s not all scarecrows and shadows. ‘Selkie (A Song For Jimmy)’ – written for a school friend who committed suicide – calls on Celtic mythology to put a romantic spin on a desperately sad event. MacWatt is a die-hard country fan but takes a poke at Nashville on ‘Too Many Love Songs’ suggesting that recession, refugees fleeing war and a world in crisis may also be worthy of three chords and the truth. The title track ‘Anywhere But Here’ depicts a twilight zone of drunken, unsatisfying one-night-stands in the search for lost love. The album closes with ‘Caledonia’, a yearning to swap city life for the Scottish Highlands, to be “anywhere but here”, yet MacWatt admits he made the journey south to London in 2010 for that very same reason.
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Anywhere But Here is digitally released on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music or available as a CD from Malcolm’s website.
Artist’s website: malcolmmacwatt.com
‘Selkie (A Song For Jimmy)’ – live: