LAST week the Scottish Album of the Year Award officially unveiled the twenty outstanding albums which have made it onto this year’s Longlist.
After another hugely rewarding year for Scottish music, a remarkable 293 submissions were narrowed down by 100 valued and impartial nominators who were all asked to vote for their favourite new releases. Spanning a wide range of contemporary music genres and styles, the results were exclusively revealed in front of a live audience at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh by hosts Vic Galloway and Nicola Meighan at a very special Live at the Longlist event.
Now in its eighth year, The SAY Award celebrates the most outstanding Scottish album each year, regardless of sales, genre or label affiliation while shining a light on the incredible strength and diversity of Scottish music. The next stage of the process will see the twenty albums whittled down to a shortlist of ten, one of which will be chosen by music fans via an online public vote and the others decided by the esteemed SAY Award judging panel.
Those on the shortlist will automatically secure a £1,000 prize aswell as the chance to be hailed Scottish Album of the Year 2019 at the final ceremony in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on 6th September. The winning artist will also scoop up the lucrative £20,000 cash prize, provided by Award partner Creative Scotland. Open from 12-14 August, the public are being welcomed to take part in an online vote, giving them an incredible opportunity to have their say on the nation’s most prestigious music prize. So with the vote now open, here’s a chance to get reacquainted with the twenty incredible albums that have made the 2019 longlist.
Vote for your favourite album here at www.SAYAWARD.com
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Here Lies The Body
Previous SAY Award winners Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert bring their distinctive individual talents together on ‘Here Lies the Body’. After first working together on Hubbert’s ‘Car Song’ in 2012, the inimitable duo have teamed up once again to create a concept album that is unpredictable and incredibly diverse. Featuring vocal input from one of Scotland’s rising stars and previous SAY Award nominee Siobhan Wilson, Hubbert’s familiar percussive guitar style works wonderfully with Moffat’s recognisable drawl. It’s a concept album that revolves around the story of two former lovers who reunite in Blackpool and traverses themes of lust, maternal abandonment, alternate realities and human frailty.
Aidan O’Rourke – 365: Volume One
Best known as the fiddle player and co-founder of Lau, the experimental folk supergroup who were shortlisted for the SAY Award in both 2013 and 2016, Aidan O’Rourke’s ‘365:Volume One’ is inspired by James Robertson’s short story anthology of the same name.The album pushed him to write a tune every day over a 12 month period and the highlights make up this album aswell as ‘Volume Two’ which was unveiled later in the year. Featuring long-time collaborator Kit Downes, his innately Scottish traditional musical backbone crossed with Downes’s jazz influences are brought together wonderfully on a record full of multiple textures and ideas.
Andrew Wasylyk – The Paralian
Known as an integral part of Idlewild’s current line-up and head of indie-pop outfit The Hazey Janes, The Paralian is Andrew Wasylyk’s third solo effort. Paralian doesn’t have much lyrical input for the most part, but is more focused on creating thoughtful, delicate soundscapes and multi-textured complexities. After he was commissioned to create new music for the restored 19th century Erard Grecian harp at the historic house Hospitalfield in Arbroath, Wasylyk was inspired by his surrounding environment and the building’s relationship to the brutal but beautiful North Sea and the harp-led compositions soon grew into a series of textured tales dressed in a variety of instruments including synths, flugelhorn, euphonium, oboe and strings
Auntie Flo – Radio Highlife
Previously shortlisted in 2016 for ‘Theory of Flow’, DJ, producer and musician Brian d’Souza – aka Auntie Flo- released Radio Highlife last year and it has been described as the culmination of “seven years of wild travelling, serendipitous encounters and deeply personal moments”. Sharing its name with his popular radio show on Worldwide FM which explores the best dance sounds from around the world, it includes field recordings and studio sessions from Cuba, Cape Town, Bali, Russia, Istanbul, Senegal, Norway, the UK and beyond. D’Souza was born in Glasgow to parents of Kenyan and Goan heritage and has been a key figure in the city’s club scene as the founder and resident DJ of the popular Highlife parties
Brighde Chaimbeul – The Reeling
Skye musician Brighde Chaimbeul’s debut album ‘The Reeling’ was recorded live without overdubs in the historic East Church in Cromarty, on the Black Isle. Performed by Brighde on the Scottish smallpipes and an ancient harmonium found in the church, the Scottish and Bulgarian tunes featured violinist and fellow nominee Aidan O’Rourke, who also produced the album, Radie Peat from Dublin outfit Lankum and pioneering 82 year old singer and piper Rona Lightfoot who contributed canntaireachd (a phonetic singing tradition). A virtuoso on the smallpipes, the album is a demonstration of instrumental prowess aswell as an exploration of the global connections of piping
C Duncan – Health
A record which saw him move from working in his bedroom to the studio for the first time and collaborate with outside producers, ‘Health’ has marked an exciting new era for C Duncan, bringing his trademark suavity into new dynamic and vibrant territory. Described as his most open albums to date with lyrics that turn to topics of communication, sexuality and anxiety, it is the third time he has been longlisted for the SAY Award after Architect and The Midnight Sun.
Carla J. Easton – Impossible Stuff
After her work with TeenCanteen, ‘Impossible Stuff’ is Carla J. Easton’s second full-length solo effort. After meeting Arcade Fire producer Howard Bilerman at the inaugural Singer Songwriter Residency at The Banff Centre For Arts and Creativity, Easton travelled over to Canada to record a full record with the revered producer who has also worked with the likes of Leonard Cohen and British Sea Power. Supported by Creative Scotland and Help Musicians UK, she has described it as “the record I’ve been wanting to make for years”, arranging string and brass sections, double drums and choirs and generating a very rich and full sound.
CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead
Now one of Scotland’s biggest international exports, CHVRCHES third album ‘Love is Dead’ hit number 7 in the UK Charts and sold nearly 12,000 copies in its first week. Supported by a massive worldwide tour that took them all over Europe, the US and Asia, the trio say: “it’s the most pop stuff we’ve done and also the most aggressive and vulnerable at the same time”. Co-produced by the famous Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Paul McCartney, Foo Fighters) and featuring input from David Stewart of Eurythmics and and Matt Berninger from The National, it marked the first time that the outfit have worked with outside producers.
Edwyn Collins – Badbea
Edwyn Collins’ ninth solo album ‘Badbea’ marks his first release since moving both home and studio to Helmsdale on the North East coast of Scotland in 2014. Building a new studio from scratch, Collins completed work on Badbea with co-producer Sean Read (Dexys, The Rockingbirds) and long-term musical cohorts Carwyn Ellis (Colorama) and James Walbourne (The Pretenders / The Rails). In part inspired by his return to the village where his grandfather lived, and somewhere Edwyn spent time over the years, the album title is taken from and inspired by a dramatically located abandoned village on a cliff top five miles north of Helmsdale with a history defined by the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. Brimming with ideas yet very light of touch, the album saw the Scottish musical icon revisit lyrics, some over 30 years old, that he had written before his stroke in 2005 but never used
Fatherson – Sum Of All Your Parts
Sum Of All Your Parts is Fatherson’s third album following the release of I am an Island in 2014 and Open Book in 2016. Produced by Claudius Mittendorfer (Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Panic! At the Disco, Paul Simon and more), it was recorded completely live and in sequence rather than using traditional multi-track recording methods to capture the communal sound lost when recording the instruments separately, creating a more organic sound. Raw and immersive, it has taken their emotionally cathartic brand of alt-rock to distinct new levels.
Fergus McCreadie Trio – Turas
Led by the multi-award winning McCreadie, the Fergus McCreadie trio consists of himself, David Bowden and Stephen Henderson; three musicians who attended the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Gaelic for ‘journey’, Turas is about journeys in Scotland and inspired by places McCreadie has been to in his home nation either by himself or with the trio. With the aim of creating “as much of an immersive journey as possible”, he was inspired by albums such as Brad Mehldau’s Highway Rider, Keith Jarrett’s Vienna Concert and Pat Metheny’s 80/1 which all have strong narratives weaved through them. The album won Best Album at the Scottish Jazz Awards 2019.
Free Love – Luxury Hits
Previously known as Happy Meals, Free Love returned to their Full Ashram label for ‘Luxury Hits’ after being shortlisted in 2015 for ‘Apero’ and longlisted in 2018 for ‘Full Ashram Devotional Ceremony IV-VI). A psychedelically enriched style of songwriting aimed at lounging dancefloors and pop romantics longing for a new fix, the album consists of 8 tracks full of colour and a breezy warmth – spanning everything from classic synth-pop to Italo disco and has successfully broadened their international appeal, gaining popularity in Germany and Russia.
Graham Costello’s STRATA – OBELISK
Nominated for both “Best Band” and “Best EP/Album” at this year’s Scottish Jazz Awards, OBELISK is the debut album from Graham Costello. Spearheading a new approach and sound in the growing Scottish improvised music landscape, Graham Costello formed the group to bridge the gap between the independent scene and the jazz scene and has successfully seized the attention of new audiences all over the country. Continuously pushing the boundaries between jazz and rock, the album is a polyrhythmic, genre-melting journey of sounds.
Karine Polwart – Laws of Motion
‘Laws of Motion’ is the latest in an evolving series of collaborative projects across which Karine has combined music and storytelling with politics and environmental-societal issues. Shortlisted twice already for the SAY Award in 2013 for ‘Traces’ and again in 2018 with Pippa Murphy for ‘A Pocket of Wind Resistance’ and a six-time winner at the Scottish Trad Awards, her latest album explores themes of human transience, change and permanency. Featuring long-term collaborators Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson, she has long established herself as one of the leading figures in Scottish folk music
Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake The Want Is
‘From When I Wake The Want Is’ is Kathryn Joseph’s second solo album since ‘Bones You Have Thrown Me, And Blood I’ve Spilled’ which won the SAY Award in 2015. It is her first album on Mogwai’s Rock Action label and sees her working with producer and main musical collaborator Marcus Mackay once again. Written during a year when she split from her partner, the deeply personal album is a raw testimonial of strength that explores the dichotomy between light and dark; pain and beauty.
Kinnaris Quintet – Free One
Each member of Kinnaris Quintet is a well-known traditional musician in her own right- Fiona MacAskill, Laura Wilkie, Aileen Reid Gobbi, Laura-Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth. Bringing their talents together for their first full-length album, Free One is a mixture of original tunes and covers and was recorded live in the studio, with each track played through from start to finish. It’s an album that often takes unconventional routes and wanders through elements of Irish, Scottish and Bluegrass and spins them into something that’s wholly unique and innovative.
Mastersystem – Dance Music
Mastersystem were a British rock supergroup composed of two sets of brothers, who were members of Frightened Rabbit and Editors and Minor Victories. Their debut album ‘Dance Music’ has gained even greater significance since it came out last year as it was the final record put out by Scott Hutchison before his tragic and untimely death last May. A massive passion project for all four members, it’s an album that evokes the spirit of nineties grunge bands like early Idlewild, Hundred Reasons, Nirvana and The Posies. Clash Music said: “It’s sonically self-conscious, yet done with such love, such precision, that it’s difficult to shrug off. It’s bold, carefree, and gripping throughout, with centrepiece ‘Old Team’ representing the sound of teenage dreams being fulfilled some two decades on.”
Niteworks – Air Fàir an Là
Having previously self-produced their own material, Niteworks’ second album sees them team up with techno producer Alex Menzies (aka Alex Smoke). Delivering a tight fusion of traditional music, club sounds and dance beats, the album which translates to “at dawn of the day” features collaborations with high profile musicians such as Julie Fowlis, Ian Morrison, fellow nominees Kinnaris Quintet, SIAN and Ellen MacDonald. Blurring the line between traditional Gaelic and hard-hitting electronic, they push their sonic boundaries with convincing verve
Sean Shibe – softLOUD
Sean Shibe’s second record spans five centuries, ranging from Scottish medieval lute manuscripts to Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, one which Reich has described as “one of the best recordings of Electric Counterpoint ever!” Arranged entirely himself, he toured the programme in 2017 before recording it as a full album, effortlessly mixing electric guitars with acoustic. Not only was he named ‘Young Artist’ at the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in 2018 but he has been shortlisted in the Instrumental Category for a 2019 BBC Music Magazine Award. Shibe has said his motivations on the album are as political as they are musical. ‘It’s a pointed and urgent probing of the question of national identity for Scotland in the age of the rise of the new right, nativist politics, Trump and Brexit’, he writes in a note.
The Twilight Sad – IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL OF THE TIME
Arriving off the back of a globe-trotting tour with The Cure, The Twilight Sad’s fifth album is their first since 2014’s ‘Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’. Released to universally positive reviews via Mogwai’s Rock Action label, it is one of their most direct and cathartic releases to date dealing in themes of love, anxiety, grief and loss and closely impacted by the death of their close friend Scott Hutchison. A determined and cathartic listening experience, it is brimming with belief and epic, impassioned post-punk.