Classy country’n’tayside from 2nd generation singer, a confident and competent celebration.
Release Date: 2nd June 2023
Label: Last Man Standing
Format: CD / digital
It’s proving a good year for 2nd generation Scottish musicians, especially in the field of, let’s call it, Glaswegiana, so far, that perfect match of jangle with country. Hot on the heels of Kirsten (daughter of Stuart) Adamson’s Landing Place comes this, the second from Craig Reid’s daughter, he of the Proclaimers. Not that she needs that heads up, nor even the nepotism. Her first album, 2019’s Trails, produced by equivalently 2nd generation wunderkind, Teddy Thompson, was maybe a bit of a rushed effort, in hindsight, laid down briskly in Brooklyn. None the worse for that, sure, but it found itself getting a little lost in covid. This has been a more measured affair, made in her home country, and produced by Perth studio wiz, David Mcfarlane. Lawside is the area of Dundee where Reid, her wife and their new son live, so Glaswegiana is a bit geographically awry, but let’s leave the genre intact, if only for the sake of the scan.
All I Need opens as a plaintive keening moan over twin-picked guitars, a paean to being rescued by love. Harmony vocals, come from Rory Butler, himself beginning to make waves as a singer-songwriter., and add a sympathetic second layer. A densely delicate song, it is a perfect introduction, ushering the listener in gently. Daisy Chain then opens with bubbly guitar and mandolin, her vocal remaining in that golden spot between croon and croak, backing vocals and much of the additional instrumentation coming from Mcfarlane, and it is a joy. Dobro, banjo and fiddle sneak in, almost unobtrusively, so as to not offend the phobic, and don’t. Lyrics address the chaos and perfection of life: “I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing half the time but I know I ain’t coming back again“. Call It Love further ups the energy, with a counted in start, brass and honky tonk piano. A barnyard ceilidh atmosphere exudes through this one: “Call it everything, call it nothing, call it love“. Catch it below.
Shine On sounds painfully and exquisitely personal, an elegy. To realise it was written in response to the Caroline Flack tragedy comes both a surprise and gives an extra thump into the solar plexus. Some lap steel does what steel does, heightening further the emotive tug, the backbeat of the rhythm section anchoring the lyrical message, a song offering empathic support, if, as circumstances unravelled, vaingloriously. A powerful song, it needs the simpler Made Just For You to counter it. A straightforward song of love for and to her newborn son, it has a captivating melody and words that can’t fail to imprint. “I could go to the ends of the earth, my love, but I think I was made just for you.” With mandolin trills in the background, if it can’t make you smile, well, it’s time to take a good look at yourself. Country music always has to address the concept of sin, it’s a rule, this subject duly covered in the solemn What Constitutes A Sin. With a slowly wheezing accordion and some sepulchral fiddle, this is one beautific dirge.
Till Kingdom Come carries, at least to me, a real flavour of Steve Earle, in its construction. Hardly surprising, he having been almost her mentor, appearing as a guest on her debut, as well as making her his special guest on his forthcoming UK tour. The mournful organ is a great foil for the fingerpicked guitar and hymnal tones. From hymn to hoedown, Mona Lisa is then a gradually escalating hootenanny, a vocal chorale bolstering the feelgood fiddle and accordion, a banjo plonking away with intent. The slightest song here, it’s placing is integral to the mood of the whole, coming as light relief between the headier tracks about it. For Couldn’t Wish More For You is another immaculately tooled wish for her son, her version, if you will, of Forever Young, mixed with a little May You Never for good measure.
All My Days reprises that sense of pinch me, am I dreaming wellbeing she has found in parenthood, and needs little embellishment to cast it afloat, a light meander through her sense of wonder. Going nowhere far, a sudden twist of steel, at the last gasp, adds an emphatic and choral conclusion that explains any earlier inconclusiveness. Heartland channels some Jackson Browne in mood and melody, mournful and melancholic, a wee hours atmosphere. Love it. “Just to find a little heart in the heartland……” Something Broken is a weepy waltz, with piano to steady your faltering steps, the odd chime of steel to keep those tears close. A classic country construction makes it a late highlight, leaving only for Take Your Time to close the show with more plaintive musings, the sort that makes this sort of music so faithful to the human condition, especially as another rule is duly followed, that of lonesome campfire harmonica being compulsory to dim the lights on proceedings.
This is a great record. Dad, Craig, and Uncle Charlie must be looking nervously as to their place on the pecking order of musical Reids, with Craig now perhaps rueing on the wisdom, or not, of the name gifted his daughter. My cash is on her.
Remember singles? Here’s Call It Love: