Superb musicianship and skill

It is only a couple of weeks since the Nobel Committee, through its award to Bob Dylan, cemented the rightful place of the lyricist into literature.

Sunday, 6th November 2016, 11:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:22 pm

For me personally, if it had not been made before, that link was firmly placed with the greats of literary history, with three words ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’ – the title of track four on the album Scattyboo, released by the Borders folk rock band Scocha.

Those three words are evocative of youth, companionship and a football.

Translate them into almost any language and you have three simple words, which would be understood by the vast majority of the population of our planet.

Well, as the old chestnut roasts, how do Scocha, follow that?

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The answer is with the release this week of the new album, Moonlight Again, hotly anticipated by their fans.

My first thoughts on holding the CD were, ‘I wish it was vinyl’. The artwork is so spectacular, it deserves to be 12ins square.

Before any listening, just reading the track list, makes the mouth water.

A band, mature and confident enough, through drawing big audiences to their live gigs in Europe, the USA, Canada and the UK, have created a tempting menu of original material, seasoned with their own versions of proper classic history. For me, the inclusion of Robert Burns’ most amazing A Man’s A Man For A That is the link in the chain to Jumpers for Goalposts. The titles say it all.

But what of the music? This is an album so beautifully crafted and performed, it deserves 20th century attention. Put it on with a glass at the elbow and sink into the warmth of a work of art, while reading the lyrics off a double-fold 12ins cover. From the first bars of light percussion and bass in Harden to the final note of Burns’ global classic, follow the light and shade. The horror and the humour carries you along a musical journey.

Such is the variety of content, even the Scocha die-hard fan base will disagree on their favourites. For me, Black Rose evokes a Burns’ favourite of mine, The Silver Tassie. This is a stunning lyric, performed and produced with a passion for history and musicianship, love and pathos. If Scottie can perform that live with a dry eye, he’ll be the only one in the venue. Utterly superb.

As for the skill in the crafting of this album, the arrangement of Burns’ A Man’s A Man, leaving it to fade on a single note, is brilliant. As a retired member of the emergency services, my black humour which is part of the coping mechanism, draws me to mention Chuffed Ti Bits, a track which will stand proud with anything the American artists have produced in this genre. Brilliant musicianship, blended with a true blues black lyric. I fear, however, some who live close to the East Coast mainline, sadly, might find it too much to take.

Fellow Borderers will adore track 11, which provides the album title, A Bellendaine, a lyric peppered with landmarks of this wonderful land. This album blew me away on so many levels.

It is 2016, and while politicians argue the toss, fighting about Scotland’s place in the UK, Europe and the world, they are all put to shame by this album.

If Scotland is seen by the world as whisky, scenery and culture, then Scocha have earned the right through their music to be up there in the latter heading, sitting at the top table with the greats – Burns, The Proclaimers, Big Country, Simple Minds, The Average White Band.

You owe it to yourself to buy this album, and then to contact your radio stations and politely demand Scocha feature on their playlists.

They are not just ambassadors for Scotland, the Scocha family are ambassadors for humanity.