For rising Scottish singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon, nature and song are intrinsically linked. Environment, ecology and the elements are a touchstone for the Shetland-based musician and The Living Mountain, her second solo album, is a fine example of the way humankind can connect and be inspired by the natural world, something most of us have experienced during lockdown more than ever before.
Multi-instrumentalist Jenny, who has a PhD in seabird ecology and organises Shetland Songwriting Festival, is also a gifted artist with her own cottage industry Ink & Wool. From the start, her musical career has been tightly entwined with the environment. Nominated for Composer of the Year at the 2018 Scots Trad Music Awards, Aberdeenshire-raised Sturgeon also performs with acclaimed alt-folk band Salt House and in the bird and migration-inspired Northern Flyway – an audio visual project co-written with Inge Thomson.
Previous releases include the EP Source To Sea (2014), her 2016 debut album From the Skein and 2017’s The Wren And The Salt Air – a commission from the National Trust for Scotland to mark 30 years of Hebridean island St Kilda as a World Heritage Site for nature. But now comes probably her most affecting album to date. The Living Mountain was inspired by trailblazing nature writer Nan Shepherd’s book of the same name and Jenny’s experience growing up near, and walking in, the Cairngorms. Within the song cycle Jenny explores her personal connection to this highland area as well as delving into Nan’s philosophy of simply ‘being’ in the mountains and interacting with the wild. Shepherd’s 1940s mountain memoir, which lay unpublished for some three decades, has been described by The Guardian as “the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain”.
Sturgeon’s passion for this project shines through. A feast for the senses and as elevating as the mountains themselves, in The Living Mountain, Sturgeon has conjured a timeless album that takes you up close and personal to a tactile and sensory place where you can almost smell the heather, feel the roughness of the rocks and be awestruck by the Aurora.
The end result is an exquisite, spellbinding, life-affirming and totally immersive experience – piece by piece the image-rich songs weave together to form a living, breathing tapestry of the Cairngorms – a real tonic for our times.
Jenny, alongside film curator Shona Thomson will be touring the audio-visual project in May & November 2021.Visuals feature stunning imagery from Scotland: The Big Picture and 1940s archive film from National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive. The meditative experience of the combined audio and imagery are a soothing and poignant exploration of what it means to connect with a landscape and to find a sense of place.
Artist’s website: https://www.jennysturgeonmusic.com/