Album review Scottish albums

Strike The Colours

This the second album by Strike The Colours, although it has been long in the pipeline, actually recorded a number of years ago. Released in late 2018, it is a very welcome return for Jenny Reeve’s combo, led by her but also featuring some great musicians from Scotland’s indie and trad music scene.

The record is a unique melding of pop and folk influences and contains some truly great songs. The short instrumental and voices intro track ‘Murmuration’, a brooding overture of sorts, gives way quickly to first track proper ‘Aces’. Jenny has a breathy but very distinct voice and it used to great effect here in a song maybe of regret, “you’ve got aces…” while the instrumentation is busy, chuntering away before a killer chorus with high female backing vocals (Jenny’s voice doubled up, BM thinks).

‘Final Eyes’ is more reflective, about life decisions, but quickly shifts into more dramatic musical territory, with another rousing chorus and some “woahwoah” backing vocals which place it in the firm tradition of Biffy, Frabbits and other Scottish favourites. The coda is serrating, searing and impressive.

Next up is ‘In Fifths’ which features some of Jenny’s trademark fiddle playing along with a thoughtful mid-pace vocal, but the band again crank up the piano, drums and bass for quite some racket, as the second verse builds up. A majestic and sparkling track, with booming drums and a strident vocal line.

‘New Snow’ is slow, piano led and a ballad of sadness, plaintive and full of longing. The next track ‘Branches’ has some guitar, sounds more like a love song but again one of regret. It builds up into a real fiddle-led wigout, complete with feedback and all… ‘Old Oak Tree’ is another blasting slice of indie-folk, taking traditional tropes (old trees!) and messing them up a bit for an update.

Title track ‘Flock’ is a foray into power-indie and the instrumentation could be mistaken for a late period Arab Strap outtake, but is transformed by Jenny’s vocals, high pitched and devastating. Penultimate track and instrumental ‘For Anne’ is sparse, featuring more amazing fiddle work, and calms things down to a waltz or bossanova, while closer ‘Beginning Middle End’ has a semi-acoustic signature riff which could be a Biffy or Frabbits one, but again the song is made into something else by the vocals and lyrics. There is even a duet with an (unknown) male vocal, before the main riff kicks in again…

A pretty darn astounding album which will reward repeated listening, a real grower and BM respects Reeve and her cohorts for their persistence and honed talent.