Friday, 8 June 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Skerryvore - Evo : Tyree Records

Sometimes out of the murky mist comes a beating drum refusing to yield as it tramples over all comers on the most personal of journeys. Banging that drum alongside etching a plethora of tunes out of the fiddle and pipes arrives Skerrymore. This fully stocked Scottish folk rock band have racked up the musical miles over an active decade and probably will long into the future, but for one summer they have captured a timeless escape into where music can lead the wandering mind. Five tunes and six songs only begin the infatuation that sprang from left field. Instantly, the past, present and future intensely stirred. EVO is a heady mix of tub thumping instrumentals clearing the path for a choice selection of invigorating anthems. Choose your label with wild abandon. You can find pop, rock, folk and tradition, and even if you close your eyes and stretch the mind, a saunter down Americana way. The flag will come down on June 11th and then the procession will intensify.

While the original songs eventually hold sway on where this album ends up, the structural support provided by the high-octane instrumentals will certainly liven up any arena, field or hall. The album kicks off with a combo piece titled ‘The Exorcists’ splitting midway yet always awash with fiddle and pipes. A brace of tunes also see the album out with the traditionally named ‘Soraidh Slan’ leading into the rousing finale ‘The Rise’. The other two vocal-less pieces strategically intersperse their vocal-led cousins at the heart of the album with the vivacious ‘Trip to Modera’ joining the frenetic ‘Mile High’.

As valuable as these tunes are to EVO, and intrinsic to Skerryvore’s traditional heritage, it is the songs that push the album into a higher stratosphere, while exposing a sensitive touch of reflective nostalgia. All six tracks will have their day as a ‘long hot hazy summer’ unfolds across the British Isles, but three in particular may have just put their noses out front first. ‘Live Forever’ has had a previous existence and is justifiably given an extended lease of life as an influx of crashing guitars permeate the infectious chorus immaculately sung with luminous clarity. ‘Take My Hand’ is a track to get some early exposure via its nostalgia fuelled video and played an important part in the early stages of adoring this record. Coming up on the rails to just pip it on release day is the distinctly powerful identity piece ‘At the End of the Line’, gloriously summarised in the lyric ‘paradise is wherever your people are’. Ultimately, paradise is a state of mind and if hairs do not stand to attention when hearing this, therapy is suggested.

The trademark Skerrymore sound of blending traditional instrumentation with contemporary rock tools is prevalent across each track. ‘Hold on’, at the very core of the record, benefits from this at the start before another memorable chorus takes root and chisels an extra notch in what should be a infatuating live experience. ‘Borderline’ is a straight up rocker, borderless in its origin and equally at home in a collection of US heartland rock tunes as one representing the outpost of western Scotland. ‘Waiting for the Sun’ completes the song offering and could just emerge to be the dark horse of the record. Like its lyrically infused companions, the hook is immense and another sure fire success whether belted out live or reverberating around your living room.

Music plays an important part in marking out the past. While Skerryvore scratches out the numbers 2-0-1-8 in the sand, it evokes memories of earlier years when sound became the catalyst for recalling an era. EVO will be heard loud and rousing across Britain, the US and Europe this summer. If it pierces as deep elsewhere as here then it will be job done. An indisputable conclusion.