Blue Rose Code: The Water of Leith Live
CD and Digital
Blue Rose Code is the creative vehicle of the fabulously talented singer songwriter Ross Wilson. The Water of Leith Live is a concert recording of Ross’s 2017 release The Water of Leith, bookended with some great reinterpretations of a number of classic selections from Ross’s varied and always enjoyable canon of great songs.
The opening track Grateful moves gently from unaccompanied voice to a beautiful atmospheric introduction of strings, segueing effortlessly into Over the Fields from the Water of Leith album. It is a moving tribute to friend John Wetton, the iconic vocalist and bassist with the classic Larks Tongues in Aspic/Red/Starless and Bible Black era King Crimson line up. The magical interweaving of piano, pedal steel, acoustic guitar and strings, provides an emotionally heartbreaking landscape for Ross’s yearning voice, and truly touching words “I hear you calling, I hear you calling, and I set my sail, I set my sail to go home, we all go home again”.
Bluebell introduces the expressive and melodically driven saxophone playing of Konrad Wiszniewski. Permeating Ross’s songs with waves of shimmering and heart stopping sound, it’s an essential component of the immersive jazz influenced musical landscapes this live set paints for the listener.
Watch a live recording of Bluebell here:
Ebb and Flow continuing this musical theme, has a lovely gospel style brass arrangement, and an inventively melodic guitar solo from Lyle Watt. The seeming timing mishap near the conclusion of the piece just seems a completely natural and meant part of the song.
If you haven’t seen Blue Rose Code live, it’s worth saying at this point, that no tour ever seems the same, as Ross constantly evolves the musical settings for his songs, running his very personal musical narrative through folk, soul, country, string arrangements, and as on this set, expansive and finely nuanced jazz arrangements. It’s a form of musical ambition and risk taking that has garnered Blue Rose Code a deservedly ever growing fan base of admirers that sell out their concerts.
A truly impressive highlight of the set is the rhythmically swinging and infectious reading of Polaris from The Water of Leith, with its refrain for star crossed lovers of “You are, are, are…, my darling the brightest star in my sky”. With a fabulously lyrical trumpet solo by Colin Steele, it’s just perfect. This reviewer first saw this song performed by Blue Rose Code at the Cambridge Folk Festival where they were joined by the legendary Danny Thompson, and the song has since then continued to grow and develop and is something very special musically.
The classic Blue Rose Code song Silent Drums, perfectly illustrates Ross’s genius for quite wonderfully re-interpreting his own songs. Here full on John Coltrane in Konrad’s soaring saxophone solo is matched by the rhythmic flowing intensity of the band in full flight. Ross pushes his vocals to the very limit, full of driving passion and emotion. It’s Blue Rose Code in quite thrilling bebop mode.
It just remains to say, make this album your introduction to Blue Rose Code, and begin your musical journey with Ross Wilson. His songs are like the best works of art, that keep drawing you back to appreciate their hidden depths and levels, that are revealed by continually changing your vantage point. That is pretty special in any form of music.
Catch Blue Rose Code on tour through March and April, accompanied on the March dates by the fabulous Wrenne. Details can be found here:
All words by Gareth Allen, you can find Gareth’s author profile here.