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ANDREW MILL & FRIENDS - Wandering Albatross 

ANDREW MILL & FRIENDS - Wandering Albatross 
Brechin All Records CDBAR032 

This one is a bit hard to categorise, or even describe – it is something a bit different! Andrew is a Scottish songwriter with a “tragicomic” style. He sings his own songs, and several here are words from Nairn poet, Donald Ker, put to music by Andrew.

The style varies widely, with moments that feel a bit rockabilly, and other bits that feel like country, folk, bluegrass or gypsy swing. It’s mostly acoustic, and the instrumentalists (on guitars, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, piano, double bass, accordion and harmonica) are very good. Andrew’s voice is unique – it is not the most melodic voice ever, and it is a bit clunky at times, but he sings in a nice natural accent which feels familiar, and for some reason, it really works. Tracey Muir joins him to sing some odd but strangely effective harmonies too.

For me, Andrew fares better when he is singing the faster stuff. The opener, Blue Is The Colour Of His Ex-Lover’s Heart, sets the tone and has some killer lines (as do many of the songs here). The Pigeon And The Lawnmower is certainly a tragicomic love song! And the final, Sing Me A Love Song Where Nobody Dies, is surprisingly catchy. There is a good tune on fiddle and mandolin towards the end, from the pen of Ciarán Ryan – a nod to a more traditional style - and a poem from Donald Ker, Pissing In The Sink.

Though perhaps not the most accomplished album you will ever hear, Wandering Albatross has left me smiling, and strangely happy. The more I listen to this, the more I get it. It’s barking mad, but it’s great!

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.