Claire Hastings: Between River and Railway

November 6, 2016

albumcoverFeel the Burns

Listening Post 72. No single album can capture the entire arc of Scotland’s musical culture, but there is a breathtaking sweep to what Claire Hastings accomplishes in the 10 tracks of her debut effort. She gambols across time and space (from eighteenth-century hillside to twentieth-century factory); weaves between joy and heartbreak; blends traditional songs with her own masterful lyrics and music; contributes a new melody to a poem by her Dumfries townsman Robert Burns; and assembles virtuoso musicians who create a sound perfectly sculpted to her enchanting, dulcet voice—singing in Scots, in English and along the spectrum between the two. In The Bothy Lads, a ballad about faithless farm hands, a young woman cradles her baby, crooning, “Hushaba for I’m yer ma/The lord kens wha’s yer daddy/I’ll tak guid care an I’ll be aware/O the young lads in the gloaming” (video 1). Let Ramensky Go recounts the true story of a safe-cracker and escape artist freed during World War II so he could use his skills behind the German lines; the song’s air of protest reflects the title character’s post-war return to form (video 2). Hastings’ childhood and three generations past echo through The House at Rosehill, telling the tale of “My great-grandfather [who] worked on the land/Between river and railway with horse and by hand” (video 3). The album’s oldest piece, Annie Laurie, dating from the 1690s, bears a declaration of burning love, “…for bonnie Annie Laurie, I’d lay me doun and dee” (video 4). The lovely Come Spend a While Wi’ Me counsels making the most of our time. It’s also the perfect coda for an all-too-short album—and a promise of more to follow this bountiful first chapter. (Luckenbooth Records)







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