Album Review – Blueflint


Blueflint – ‘Stories From Home.’ (Johnny Rock)

Once again, Deborah Arnott and her partner in crime Clare Neilson have served up a fantastic album. Following from their two previous albums, High Bright Morning and Maudy Tree, the Edinburgh duo have returned with another fantastic album.

Pigeonholed variously (and rather lazily) in with bluegrass and Americana, this album shows that they are continuing to evolve as songwriters. In that time, Clare Neilson as also become a mother and all credit to her that ‘Little Stranger’, one of four songs she contributes to the album, manages to be affecting without being trite about the joys of motherhood. It’s also an upbeat number, which makes a change when so many people of either sex seem to think that the joys of parenthood must be sung as slushy ballads.

Given the album’s title, it’s an album that owes as much to Scotland as it does to any American influences; with the legendary ex-Delgados’ drummer Paul Savage in the producer’s seat (who has also produced the likes of Arab Strap, Franz Ferdinand and Mogwai), and affecting photography of Leith in the accompanying booklet. And it’s always great to hear Scottish bands singing in their own accents.

As well as the aforementioned ‘Little Stranger’ other highlights include ‘This Is A Story’ which sounds like a song The Proclaimers would kill to have written and ‘King Of My Apple Tree’, the latter the album’s opener. It’s so nakedly personal that I can’t help but assume it’s about a personal experience, and it raises the question about whether this is about a present or past relationship? That is, of course, a hypothetical question and yet it’s another demonstration of how emotionally affecting (as opposed to emotionally affected) Blueflint’s records are.

Blueflint have scored a hat-trick of brilliant albums. However long the next one takes, six months or a decade, I’ll be waiting.


Stories From Home is released by Johnny Rock on March 30.

Album Review – Blueflint


Blueflint -‘Maudy Tree’ (Johnny Rock Records)

Two years since their excellent debut album, High Bright Morning, and the Edinburgh bluegrass act have returned with their sophomore album. It’s definitely been worth the wait.

To these ears, it’s darker in places than High Bright Morning, but there’s also a hint of black humour as well. Opener ‘Light In THe Window’ is as warm an entry as ‘Takes More Than A Little Time’ was on their debut, but there’s a hint -just a hint – of things being darker this time round. ‘P45’ is reposte to a former lover, and getting revenge on them, perhaps via karma. ‘I’ll be the P in your P45/the dogshit on your shoe/the suicidial song that’s playing when you’ve got the blues.’

It’s always the hope that an act will advance on their soiphomore album, and the fact that the line up has now expanded to include Hugh Kelly on double-bass and Roddy Neilson of Peatbog Faeries fame on fiddle and vocals as well as the fearsome double-act of Deborah Arnott and Clare Neilson is an indication of how they have grown. Neilson takes lead vocals on ‘Bottlebank’ adding another dimension to the record.

If you still haven’t bought their debut, shame on you. Make sure you get this one as well.


Maudy Tree is out now on Johnny Rock Records

Lightinthewindow by Blueflint

Maudy Tree by Blueflint

A decade…

dj-ed-jupp1Like most folk in their mid-thirties, I guess I’ve done some things that make me look back and cringe.

But I’ve also taken chances on things, and look back and think ‘Well, that was a leap into the unknown – but it paid off.’

And one of those was moving to Edinburgh.

Ten years ago, I was really not sure where I was heading. I had spent five years studying full-time, which had awarded me a BA and Masters in Philosophy, and still left feeling that I wanted to do something musically related. A relationship had crashed and burned, leaving me in a state, and wondering what it was all about.

I spent a few weeks in London trying to get a job selling advertising space (why??? I honestly thought in my frazzled state that this would lead me to working for the NME or something similar). Instead I got interviews but no job in this field (thank God) and was filing, once again, for my Mum. So I went up for a week to Edinburgh to see my little brother who was acting and doing comedy in the Festival and studying (t)here.

I fell hook, line and sinker for Edinburgh. I’d visited before and loved it, and couldn’t work out how I could move here. After a few days, I arranged that I would sleep on my brother’s floor for six weeks, try and find and job and a place to live. I briefly returned to England to attend V2001 (so long ago that Muse were headlining the second stage), and grab some clothes. I arrived on August 20, 2001.

I barely knew anyone apart from my brother, and a people I’d met through him. I volunteered at the Edinburgh book festival and within three days was working in a call centre. I thought it would be a stop gap measure for a few weeks; in the end I would end up working there on and off for over two years. But I met some of my greatest friends in Edinburgh there. Amongst those who worked there were Deborah Arnott from Blueflint and Ken McIntosh from Aberfeldy (the latter then playing with his twin in Edinburgh’s greatest lost band, Wayne Paycheck).

And I started to find my feet. I did find somewhere to live – almost directly leading to me meeting my wife. I ended up doing all sorts of jobs from the bizarre (I still can’t believe I ever worked as a door-to door salesman) to the dream come true of finally working in a record shop (or three, if you want to be pedantic).

As the years went by, I trained as a teacher and taught for a few years, as well as doing bits of TEFL. And of course, I sauntered vaguely downwards (with apologies to Terry Pratchett) into the Edinburgh music scene. Whilst I’ve not really got a band together, I’ve had a fair amount of stuff published online, interviewed bands I could only have dreamt about and DJed. And I made many new friends -and against all odds – married and have a wonderful son, and two much adored (if rather indulged) cats. In the last few years I’ve become a Hibee (supporter of Hibernian football club – now who would have thought I’d get into going to the football?) And running my own club night or record label? the sort of thing that people back in England told me I’d never do? Hah!

It’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve lost twelve months in that time to depression, which is one of the most horrible -and still misunderstood illnesses – around. But I’ve got through it, thanks to Edinburgh folk, and most particuarly my wife, brother and parents and close Edinburgh friends (you know who you are).

Against all odds, I gave up smoking and drinking (so much for the ‘sick man of Europe’ tag). I feel very much at home here, even if I bristle about casual anti-English remarks. And this far into my life I’m still ‘yes to vinyl, no to meat.’ A pretty long phase, then.

So God bless all of you who’ve made me welcome. I’ve done some daft things – but this wasn’t one of them.

A sampling of an Edinburgh soundtrack…

Withered Hand -‘Religious Songs.’ mp3

eagleowl -‘Morpheus.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -‘Claire.’ mp3

Last Battle -‘Black Waterfall.’ mp3

X-Lion Tamer -‘Hope.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘Takes More Than A Little Time.’ mp3

Tigerfest is go! (part 3)


Tigerfest begins today in Edinburgh.

Very excited and looking forward to tonight’s first gig.

Please note: the Phoebe Kreuz gig on Thursday May 6 has had to be cancelled as the band are stranded in Berlin due to Volcanic Ash.

Also: the Gothenburg Address are unable to play on May 9, and their place has been taken by White Heath.

With a look ahead to tonight’s gig…

Blueflint -‘Takes More Than A Little Time.’ mp3

Live review – Blueflint/Emily Scott

Blueflint/Emily Scott

The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, September 30.

So…there I am. I’m driving through Edinburgh at night with my friends Jared and Ken, the latter the bass player from Aberfeldy. Unusually for us these days, Radio 1 is on. Even more unusually, David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ comes on. It sounds amazing. In a scene like something from Wayne’s World Ken insists we wind the windows down, cold as it is, crank the music up and sing at the top of our voices. ‘Tremble like a …FLOWERRRR!’ It’s the end to a rather fantastic night…

…rewind to a few hours earlier…

Emily Scott cuts an unusual figure on the stage. Armed with her double bass and accompanied by guitarist Damon Thompson she opens with ‘Watching Them’ the opening cut on her debut album, Longshore Drift. Currently promoting her new album abcdefg, she has a gorgeous voice that makes you want to investigate her music more. I’ve been enjoying her debut and will definitely be checking out her latest release.

Tonight is the official album launch for Blueflint’s album High Bright Morning, at the official scottish launch, as the morning after the gig they are heading down to London for the English launch, with Aberfeldy bassist Ken MacIntosh in tow. The album is simply stunning and will be sitting very near the top of my albums of the year list when December comes around. The album contains a gorgeous mix of folk and bluegrass, with the banjo duo of Deborah Arnott and Clare-Louise Neilson demonstarting why their reputation has been growing so much in Scotland and further afield.

Live the songs work just as well, and they open with ‘Skittin’ Skattin’ ‘ This is quite an upbeat track from the album – which also contains the ‘High Bright morning’ story about being lowered into the grave and ‘What Lies beneath’ based on a William Faulkner tale. But whether it’s murder ballads or lovesongs (and are the two always separate?), there’s a real genuine warmth that comes from these songs played live. There’s also a fantastic song called ‘P.45’ not on the album which is about revenge.

The band are deservedly called on for an encore and it’s only fair to particularly single out the stunning fiddle playing of roddy neilson which punctuates the whole evening. But important contributions come from Hugh Kelly on double bass, Andy Pennycook on harmonica, Gavin Taylor on slide guitar. As we head out into the night, the warmth takes over even as the night draw in and even as a teetotaller, I’m drunk and high on the atmosphere.

The car, David Bowie and loud singing beckon.

Which is where we came in…

High Bright Morning is released on October 5.

These three tracks are given away free on their webpage.

Blueflint webpage/Blueflint myspace

Blueflint -‘Takes More Than a Little Time.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘High bright Morning.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘Skippin’ Skattin.’ mp3

Blueflint’s website/Blueflint myspace

Emily Scott myspace

Album Review – Blueflint


Blueflint -‘High Bright Morning’ (Johnny Rock Records)

…Oh yes.

This album has been long awaited in Edinburgh and the wider scottish music scene. The gorgeous bluegrass-folk music duo of the two banjo players Clare-Louise Neilson and her pal, noted actress Deborah Arnott, have been picking up rave reviews over the last wee while and this album shows exactly why.

Over the course of ten songs over thirty six minutes, these sublime original songs cannot fail to move you, cannot leave you untouched. Themes traditional to bluegrass – loss, revenge, sicide, untimely death, and let’s not forget love – are dealt with here. There’s no excess flab here, this is an album that sets out its’ intent from first listen. It’s hard to imagine anyone who could not be touched by the music herein. ‘Takes More Than A Little Time,’ the album’s opener, sets the stall, as one future classic after another follows.

Contributions also come from Roddy Neilson on fiddle, Ian Stoddart on drums (ex-Win, ex-Aberfeldy) and Joey Sanderson on bass. (It’s also rumoured that Ken Macintosh, Edinburgh bass legend and one fifth of Aberfeldy will also be playing bass with them), and helmed by the legendary Jim Sutherland.

Get your hands on this album. It’s one that you’ll want to hear again and again. Yes, Yes…


High Bright Morning is released on October 5.

These three tracks are given free on their webpage.

Blueflint webpage/Blueflint myspace

Blueflint -‘Takes More Than a Little Time.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘High bright Morning.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘Skippin’ Skattin.’ mp3