GAVIN LIVINGSTONE - Fire In The Snow
For an artiste with a hefty track record and key contributions to numerous bands, it is a surprise to me that this is Gavin’s first completely solo album. With the exception of the inclusion of an Alistair Hulett song, all are original compositions – and he has contributed all instrumentation, vocals and arrangements – which is ridiculously time consuming and notoriously difficult to pull off. His touching song about immigration, A True Glaswegian, is thought provoking, and at times both tender and uplifting. The passing of a hundred years since WW1 has saturated the folk scene with songs relating to that conflict, but one of the better ones here, Hulett’s Don’t Sign Up For War, is as poignant as any (“A bayonet, that’s a weapon wi’ a workin’ man at either end”, paraphrasing John MacLean).
The Waverley Line, written in celebration of the renewed borders railway (although it was only in the planning stage when the song was written), is another cracker, and even includes spoken dialogue, reminiscences of folk who remember the line first time around before the Beeching cuts led to its demise in 1969. Mind you, the dialogue comes along with music that could have been sampled from The Beatles’ Revolution 9 (and who would want to do that). Otherwise NO complaints about this one. The epic medley, This Desolate Future/The Wilderness, joins together a wistful but respectful reflection on the hardships previous generations had to endure, with a brilliant tune that is a perfect counterpoint to the preceding song.
This is an album that improves with repeated listening. Give it a chance and you will be rewarded.
This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine