Blue Rose Code – The Water of Leith
Navigator Records – 27 October 2017
Blue Rose Code, aka acclaimed singer-songwriter Ross Wilson, releases The Water Of Leith, his first album for Navigator Records on October 27 on CD (NAVIGATOR103), download and album stream.
A nomad both geographically and musically, Ross writes from the heart eschewing any specific genre and the twelve new songs on The Water Of Leith, addressing themes of love, loss, travel, home, accepting the past and embracing the future, are painted with colours of folk, jazz, soul and pop; an eclecticism that has become a hallmark of Blue Rose Code and has seen him compared to John Martyn, Van Morrison and Tom Waits.
Underlining the sense of movement and place in Ross’s work, The Water Of Leith is rooted in his return to his Scottish homeland. There, he reconnected with the stellar musicians who were to become an integral part of the new album’s sound: multi award-winning singer Julie Fowlis, celebrated Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, BBC Folk Award Winner, Ross Ainslie, 2017’s Scottish Jazz Awards’ instrumentalist of the year Konrad Wiszniewski, leading violinist Seonaid Aitken and three of Scotland’s finest jazz musicians; John Lowrie, Colin Steele and James Lindsay, to name just some of the contributors. Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman features on the opening track. Ross co-produced the album with Angus Lyon.
The liner notes are written by none other than author Ian Rankin who doesn’t hold back on his praise:
So you’re the kind of person who reads sleeve notes? Me, too, even though I agree with the contentious quote which has it that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. On the other hand, I can imagine a modern ballet which would seek to interpret the works of various architects, so here I am having a go.
When Blue Rose Code (we can probably call him Ross) asked me to pen some notes for his new album, I was flattered. But I mainly agreed because then I’d get to hear these songs long before release day, and as a huge fan, that was the real draw. Nor was I disappointed. Ross’s voice remains warm and involving, as passionate an instrument as a John Martyn or a Van Morrison has ever possessed.
Those aren’t just random names, by the way. When trying to describe Blue Rose Code to people I hope will become fans, I mention Martyn and Morrison as reference points. Then those same friends may ask me: but what kind of music is it? It’s folk, I’ll say. But it’s got bits of country in it, and blues, and soul – maybe the Caledonian Soul of Van Morrison. Oh, but there’s a gospel spirituality to the music, too. And you’ll hear the occasional jazz solo and extended musical ruminations that can feel more ethereal than any of the above.
And it all comes together in a sound that is filled with yearning, exploring love (of other people, yes, but of the Scottish landscape, too). It doesn’t need categorisation, does it? It’s just great music, beautiful music, music to make you think, and to lose yourself in. Sometimes it seems as if the listener is truly inside Ross’s head, sharing his hopes and dreams, his failings and personal insights, but without the lyrics ever becoming insular or self-absorbed, because the outside world is always present, shaping mood and outlook. Is Ross really in the tradition of the troubadour then, a romantically-inclined songwriter who prefers love songs to any other form, picking up all sorts of musical influences during his travels? Possibly. All I know is, this album makes my heart swell. Filled with emotion and yearning and exploration of Scotland inside and out, it’s a splendid edifice. Here’s to its architect!
Blue Rose Code will tour extensively around the release of The Water Of Leith, including concerts at Edinburgh Queen’s Hall on November 3, London Bush Hall on November 14, Perth Concert Hall on November 20 and two nights at Harbour Arts in Irvine on November 24 and 25. For full tour dates visit: http://www.bluerosecode.com/live
Tracklisting for The Water Of Leith
1.Over The Fields (for John)
3.Ebb & Flow
7.On The Hill Remains A Heart
11.To The Shore
The Water of Leith marks another step forward for Ross: his first record in recovery following a personal history overcoming alcoholism and addiction.
Pre-order The Water of Leith: http://smarturl.it/