Scottish folk musician and singer-songwriter Findlay Napier met up with Ely-based musician Boo Hewerdine to help improve his songwriting craft. Hewerdine, who first found success with his eighties band The Bible, may not exactly be a household name, but has a dedicated fan base of his own, is very well known amongst musicians and has written and co-written songs for for a huge number of artists, as well as running songwriting workshops a few times a year. These mentoring sessions resulted in a prolific bout of songwriting and led to Boo co-writing and producing Findlay’s first solo album, “VIP: Very Interesting Persons”. With each song based on a notable character throughout history, this immensely likeable album introduces the listener to a cast of con artists, baseball players, cosmonauts, fighter pilots and much more. This is richly descriptive and entertaining contemporary folk; musical storytelling at its best. “VIP” makes you smile, moves you and, what’s more, inspires you to learn more about the people these delightful songs are written about.
Findlay Napier has been on the folk scene for well over a decade and his strong yet soft voice is a superb instrument with which to deliver captivating lyrics, with the words ringing, crystal clear, over the music. Whether expressing the romanticism of the touching “Hedy Lamarr” or “An Idol In Decline”, the bluesy-folk of the excellent “The Man Who Sold New York” or the country-leanings of “Eddie Banjo”, Napier’s voice conveys enviably apt expression and emotion. “VIP” is also one of those excellent pieces of work where every song brings something special to the album and each is beautifully performed by the core musicians of Napier, Hewerdine and talented multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren, as well as other guesting artists. There are a superbly eclectic range of styles and textures on offer here too, with “Rising Sun” and “Sweet Science” providing some more exciting rhythms and arrangements to contrast with more conventional folk ballad compositions such as the pretty “Valentina”.
Boo Hewerdine is a master collaborator, whether it be with Brooks Williams in State Of The Union or writing songs and performing with Eddi Reader or Chris Difford and his gentle, lilting melodies and harmonies are sprinkled all over “VIP” like icing sugar on a sponge cake and, listening to this piece of work, it is easy to understand why Boo and Findlay’s songwriting partnership flourished when it produced such fine songs as these; they appear to be a perfect fit for each other. Recorded (and subsequently mixed and mastered) in Glasgow by Mark Freegard in his Kyoti studios, the instruments are given the breathing space for their natural tones to shine; the feel of this record is like listening to a truly fine live performance, so that when, for example, the flute comes in on “Valentina”, your attention is immediately drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Findlay Napier’s first solo album, quite simply, sounds beautiful and listening to the rich stories told on “VIP” is nothing less than a pleasure, from start to finish. Contemporary folk at its finest.
Findlay Napier’s “VIP: Very Interesting Persons” was released on 6th October, 2014 on Cheerygroove Records. It was crowd-funded on Pledge Music and is available, digitally, via iTunes or Amazon. The CD version, although previously available to those who pledged, receives an official release on 12th January, 2015. For more information, visit Findlay’s website.
During October, Findlay is also supporting Eddi Reader on her forthcoming UK tour. Check out the gig dates here.
Andy Sweeney, 6th October, 2014.