Sunday, 3 July 2016


CD Review

Songs From The Boarwood

Scot Euan Drysdale opens his follow up to his debut album, Parcel of Rogues, with a lively song which has that easy beat reminiscent of Paul Heaton of The Beautiful South and The Housemartins, but also has the energy of a Saw Doctors offering. This is an album of original tunes from the Bathgate-born singer.

Euan Drysdale
Drysdale has a real versatility and can easily switch styles, a trait obvious on this album but he also has an under-produced rawness to his way of singing and playing which is quite refreshing.
Dancing Bears has that toe tapping quality; a light song which lifts the spirits and the sort of music which should be played in an open topped car driving under the summer sun.
Drysdale is joined on the album by incredible fiddler Alastair Savage, who has his own album out Alone With History, and former Capercaille percussionist Wilf Taylor.
The album is about Drysdale's persona and what has conspired to make him the person and musician he is today while giving the listener the opportunity to tap into their own memories of people and places, past and present.
Dark Moon is a gentle but brooding ballad about loss. Drysdale's voice softens for the song and has a melancholic shade to it. It's also where Drysdale gets to show you another of the many strings to his bow - accompanying himself on the piano.
The gentle guitar opening of Stone by Stone is matched by the softness of Drysdale's singing and is a restful ballad alluding to one of the journeys in the artist's life. Savage's subtle fiddle accompaniment adds to the thoughtfulness of the song.
Drysdale hardens things up for Steelyard Blues bringing a gravelly voice and heavier sound as the guitar strings provide the thumping rhythm. The electric strand brings a rock element to the proceedings where the singer juxtaposes a softer tone switching back and forth between the two forms, almost as if he is trying to pack as many musical styles into one song as possible.
Alistair Savage
The lighter sound of The Ballad Of Billy Blue brings a country blues sound to the cryptic lyrics with once again Savage adding colour with a mountain fiddle strand.
Drysdale again show his many talents pitching his singing somewhere between the gritty style of the previous blues song and the softer sound of  Dark Moon.
With an unaccompanied opening verse Have Not Loved Enough takes you a little by surprise as it stands out for the emotion Drysdale invests in it.  What sounds like a strong lament is made even more emotive by the introduction of his piano playing as the lone accompaniment.
The late great Gerry Rafferty's Get It Right comes to mind as soon as the blues rift which opener of Something To Do fires up. Drysdale's even tones seem to be a stabilising strand throughout the heavy beat of the strong blues number. There are times when he is close to orating the song rather than singing it. Almost as a cheeky aside, Drysdale who started off as a trumpet player, introduces a mock horn sound.
Another Sky has a retro folk sound to it and does evoke images of the summer of love, Woodstock and Simon & Garfunkel as Drysdale lets his folky side off the leash. The strong ballad does however had a slightly sinister undertone which stops you from getting too comfortable with the tune.
Drysdale reaches the end of his musical and personal retrospective with The Last Grey of the Evening which is a big ballad sung to his lone piano playing.
It gives you the image of the nightclub singer in a single spotlight of a smoky nightclub as the last customers trickle out. It's a really thoughtful song and you get a feeling Drysdale is singing for his own cathartic reasons, his soft tones seem to teeter on the edge of losing control of his emotions.
It's a complete contrast from the opening track and is a slick way to end the album and bring it to a definite close.
Drysdale has a versatility and a lightness of touch which belies his stern looking demeanour. His style has a rawness which gives him a distinctive sound and which would have been lost had the album been overproduced.
Songs From The Boarwood is a solid album from a solid musician and is a good example of how to give an insight into the tapestry of life through music and song.

Songs From The Boarwood is on Firdon Records and available now from the artist's website, itunes, Amazon, Google Play and Birnam Online.

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