Sunday, 5 October 2014

Album Review - King Creosote - From Scotland With Love

King Creosote’s first release with Domino since 2011’s surprise success with Jon Hopkins, which gently pushed both artists further into the public conscious, From Scotland With Love  is a collection of songs that accompany the archive footage film of the same name.  The songs sit seamlessly amongst the footage in the film, with the lyrical content and mood not only mirroring the on-screen footage, but enhancing it.  The contemporary folk with traditional Scottish leanings make King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) is the perfect man for the job, making the content relevant to today and without ever being stereotypical or kitsch.

As a stand-alone entity the album is impressively strong.  Gone are the silly, fun and charming oddities of the small batch Fence releases, and in its place are eleven (CD edition) well crafted songs that can be uplifting, introverted, playful and pensive.  Being a film soundtrack the songs are inevitably more stirring and climatic than Kenny’s usual, although this, along with the production and interesting arrangements takes this a step beyond a solo record, and Anderson’s most rounded collection of songs yet.

Admittedly, a number of the tracks lose their magic out of context.  Bluebell, Cockleshell 123  is not as much fun without the children skipping in the street, and the full sense of relief is lost from For One Night Only.  However, the strength of the song writing and the sheer cohesiveness of the album mean these are only enhanced by the film not detracted without.

A strong cinematic element to the music, as well as giving the album a more rounded feel are the luscious string arrangements provided by Pete Harvey.  The strings thicken out the compositions and provide counter melodies to songs like One Floor Down  and Cargill.  Additionally, the use of clarinet throughout provides another interesting and individual voice, that harks back to the era with its playful ragtime phrases.

The indies-only double vinyl comes with eight bonus tracks.  These range from ballads Favourite Girl  and Carry On Dancing,  to ambient tracks Melt  and Marie Celeste.  The omission of the two ballads from the CD release is a real shame, but makes the bonus edition even sweater.  Instrumental Return Ticket  is the surprise gem of the additional content, however.  A gentle rising clarinet pattern repeats over a crescendo that is warm, inviting and endearing.

The album takes you on a journey, despite being made up of various accompaniments to film sections pieced together from incoherent footage Kenny has managed to create a cohesive collection of songs that perfectly reflect (or create, depending on the angle you take it from) the moods of the film: beautiful, uplifting, moving and nostalgic.  Considering just how prolific a songwriter Kenny is, his output is continually becoming more crafted, refined and expansive.

- Ashley Leiper
King Creosote - From Scotland With Love  is out now via Domino Records and is available in all good record shops and online music retailers.

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