The wonders that have flowed from the East Nuek musical community that is the Fence Collective, particularly King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) have been a quiet triumph. Anderson's album with Jon Hopkins 2011's "Diamond Mine" was one of the best of that year and he has a fine pop sensibility, spry wit and melodic charm to spare.
"From Scotland with Love" sees King Creosote writing a record to accompany a documentary of archive footage released to coincide with Glasgow's Commonwealth Games. But the album has broader ambitions. Indeed it is a kind of mini history of Scotland set to song or more precisely an attempt to capture national identity at a crucial point in the nations development. This is Anderson's most personal album to date and a labour of love. In every sense he has done his theme justice. From the haunting accordion opening of the gorgeous "Something to believe in" to the heart wrenching instrumental closer "Prairie Tale" this album emotionally grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Songs which standout on first listens include the glorious piano ballad "Cargill" a fisherman's love story with the immortal line alluding to "my heartstrings entangled in your net". There are echoes of "Diamond Mine" on the plaintive "Paupers Dough" a socialist plea for justice and a stirring call to fellow Scots "to rise above the gutter you are inside". This may be one for the Independence campaign? It is not all serious stuff with "Largs (Long) motoring on at pace although it is probably the weakest song on the album. Much better is the anthem like "For one night only" which does recall his Scottish compatriots Frightened Rabbit. The counterpoint to this is the sprightly "Bluebell Cockershell 123" based on one of those children's skipping songs and powered by handclaps and a lovely Anderson vocal.
As a partnership "From Scotland With Love" was created in collaboration with director Virginia Heath and Producer Grant Keir. They have done a sterling job especially on songs like the splendid "One floor down" and "Miserable Strangers" the very special tale of Scots emigres forced to leave their country in search of work. Whilst this album does not edge the brilliant "Diamond Mine" it is a very fine body of work full of woozy charm and particularly affecting songs.
Review by Red on Black