‘Northern Sky’ by Pete Coutts - songwriter and tunesmith of considerable calibre(September 30, 2016)
It’s incredibly hard not to fall into the wide and open depths of ‘Northern Sky’, the debut solo album from Pete Coutts. With its combination of tunes and songs deeply imbued with the traditions of North East Scotland it seduces your ear from the first. Although it’s not strictly a 100% solo effort as such because the album features such luminaries as Ali Hutton, Jonny Hardie, Brian McAlpine and Martin O’Neil. However, with the exception of Nick Drake’s ‘Northern Sky’, the songs and tunes are written by Coutts. And ‘Northern Sky’ stands testament to the fact he’s a songwriter and tunesmith of considerable calibre.
The album opens with the instrumental ‘Allathumpach’ followed by perfect reflections of tradition with ‘Sail & Oar’ a collaboration with Jenny Sturgeon, into the spritely ‘In & Oot’ before returning to song with ‘Castin’ the Peat’. The progression through this album never loses its audience ... the tunes lift and lilt, the songs relate tales of peoples and places as Coutts’s emphatic voice brings them alive ... and there’s always an edge that cuts through to catch every listener. The proof of that lies throughout but more especially in the original ‘Will Ye Byde’ and the superb rendition of ‘Northern Sky’.
Playing on ‘Northern Sky’ are Pete Coutts (mandolin, guitar, vocals) Ali Hutton (whistles, pipes, guitar, electric guitar) Jonny Hardie (fiddle) Brian McAlpine (accordion) Martin O’Neill (bodhrán) joined on selected tracks by Ross Ainslie (cittern) Jenny Sturgeon (backing vocals) Steven Crawford (guitar) Graham Coe (cello) and Salossi (fiddle).
Northern Sky is released on Fit Like Records: fitlikerecords.com
Review: Tim Carroll