Scots band Blueflint are currently out on tour promoting a new album (reviewed here) and took a few moments out to answer some of the burning questions which arose from listening to their new songs.
Their last album, ‘Maudy Tree’ came out four years ago which seems a long time ago. In the meantime, families and personal lives have taken a chunk of time so it must have been a relief to release the new album. “It was certainly good to get into the studio again – we’d had a busy couple of years, what with The Proclaimers’ support slot and subsequent touring. We’d built up a body of new material over that time, and it was great to for that to take shape through the recording process.”
In the meantime, some things must have changed in terms of the groups working together, particularly in terms of the songwriting. “Yes, most definitely. The new material we’d been working on naturally evolved and had a different feel about it, more contemporary in feel than the more genre-inspired material we’ve written previously. When we approached the new album, we wanted to encapsulate the new feel of our songs in the recorded arrangements.”
The title of the new album – ‘Stories From Home’ – seem quite prophetic and the songs seem to do exactly what it says on the tin. “Absolutely – this collection of songs carry themes which are close to the heart, many of which deal with families and relationships, our own personal spaces and landscapes.”
“As the album title suggests, the songs are inspired by themes close to the heart – the family; relationships, and other themes of daily life, particularly daily life in what are trying times. ‘Little Stranger’ in particular is inspired by the experience of new parenthood and what that brings with it. While that song deals with the euphoria of a new life, other songs deal with the harder moments of relationships, such as the end of a life together (‘King of my apple tree’, ‘What if I don’t want to’)”
Writing the material and working with Paul Savage as a producer on the album appears to have heralded some changes in the approach this time round. None of the material seems to have been set in stone and there were opportunities for them to develop in the studio. “It was a fantastic opportunity to work with Paul Savage on the new album. We were keen to explore new musical directions for the material, and so we kept an open mind as to how the songs might evolve with Paul’s insight. The resulting recording process was invaluable; Paul is a very intuitive producer and while retaining the essence of each song, brought in elements that lent them a new feel, and atmosphere. Previously we had recorded our album live. This time Paul recorded the drums and bass first and we layered it up. We really enjoyed this way of recording and developing the songs as the sound unfolded.”
In terms of what he brought to the album, they explained: “He is a very talented man, very relaxed and encouraging to be around. He brought his own ideas for musical instruments and some riff ideas to bring to the songs that added to the atmosphere of each song. He also introduced us to musician Davey MacCauly who played a few of the ‘newer’ instruments to our songs – electric guitar, piano.”
‘This Is A Story’ (which has also been released as a video) has a very Proclaimers feel/influence – could it be that this is maybe a breakthrough song, or dare I say a more commercial song: “It wasn’t intentionally written that way but we would like our music to become more known to wider audiences and if one of our songs can manage to breakthrough and help us to do that – then that would be great.”
It’s a song which is one of a few moments when the album almost seems to be a celebration of Scotland and the culture with the accents coming through – almost typical of the way folk musicians aren’t afraid to sing in their own accents. It prompted a thought about whether there was an awareness of ‘promoting’ and celebrating your origins. “We didn’t necessarily take a conscious decision to sing in our own accents; given the themes covered, it does, however, keep it more genuine and closer to home. It’s not a ‘promotion’ of our background as such – but definitely an acknowledgement and yes, a celebration of where we’re from; a small joyful celebration!
Having said that, there was a debt to the Creative Scotland organisation whose funding was crucial to making the album. It begged the question about how influential were they and whether or not they set any remit for the album. “Yes – we were delighted to receive funding from Creative Scotland – it’s unlikely the album would have gone ahead in the way that it did without their support. Naturally there are certain criteria that have to be met, but creatively, they gave Paul and ourselves a lot of space to develop and shape the project.
Finally, we chatted about the album packaging and artwork which is quite evocative with the urban landscapes almost reflecting the music and lyrics. “The images for the album are places in Leith, Edinburgh – a number of the band members are based in Leith, and it’s fair to say that it holds a special place in our hearts. It’s an area of the city which has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but still retains its essence – and long may that continue. The artwork for the front of the CD was created by the wonderful Scottish artist Steven Hood.”
You can find Blueflint online here: http://blueflint.org.uk/