A former Songwriter of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards – and three-time Scots Singer nominee – Perthshire’s finest Jim Malcolm has steadily built on the acclaim he won while fronting the Old Blind Dogs for seven years, with the ensuing dozen firmly cementing his reputation as a captivating interpreter of traditional songs, a master craftsman of original material and a glorious singer. “Quietly, unforcefully and undeniably stunning” (Mojo)
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Three time Scots Sangster o i’ Twalmont nominee, Jim Malcolm wis wi’ Old Blind Dogs fur aroon seiven year. Jined by his dother Beth an’ wife Susie, makin’ a faimily band o’ three vocals, piana, guitar, an’ moothie. Am’ a fair fan o’ I’ Old Blind Dogs, an hae enjoyed listenin’ tae mony o their albums oer the years, so fae the affset, I wis expectin’ monys the traditional ballad, perhaps wi’ sam o’ his ain sangs thrown in atween.
Jim opened his set, wi some questionably sketchy trumpeting, afore singin’ Lochanside, the pipe tune he pit wards tae. This hid a bonny wee refrain an’ got I’ audience singin, albeit reluctantly. Jim wis evidently in affa guid voice! Bit his guitar-playin’ wis giy fittin and he accompanied his sangs in a beautiful wey. His moothie served fir the instrumentals and really added something affa bonny – anither element – tae I’ sang arrangements.
He then invited his wife Susie ontae I’ stage and sang I’ familiar Pad The Road, a sang foond in John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads o Aberdeen, Banff, Moray, Angus and the Mearns. The duet love sang gied wey tae elaborate fitting melody lines on I’ harmonica. The addition o’ Suzie really brocht oof the story o’ the sang, an’ I’ vices thegither wis bonny.
Jim an’ his wife hid a really braw rapport wi’ I’ audience an’ got a fair load a’ lauchs, which proved entertainment value ti a high degree. They cairred oan wi a burns sang, The Ploughman. This is fae Jim’s 2006 album titled acquaintance. Earlier versions o’ this sang is foond in David Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, bit Burns adapted it. Suzie led this song and really eased intae the sang.
A felt thit mony o’ the sangs begun I’ same wey, an’ ended the same wey – wi a harmonica melody line. Filst this is consistent an’ bonny, a wee shake-up wis welcomed, in I’ form o’ his dother Beth, fa played I’ piana an’ sung. Beth stairted wi’ her ain sang “You Said”, which wis a lovely sang an her voice minded me o’ Embro’s ain Nina Nesbitt. Jim showed his versatility fan he accompanied Beth an providit harmonies. He proved jist as much at hame accompanying on I’ guitar an’ gied bonny countermelodies. Beth’s piana playin wis intricate an’ contemporary. But this sang really delved mair intae the “indie” singer-sangscriever genre. Sic a sudden shift tae the singer-sangscriever genre wis aimaist jarrin’; I canna help bit thinkin’ thit the genre’s were affa far aparit tae bridge thim sae close thegither. Nanetheless, this wis a nice introduction tae Beth’s music an’ I’d like tae see her in action at a solo gig.
Jim led the neist sang The Battle of Waterloo, an’ Beth accompanied him an’ sang backin’. I enjoyed ‘is dynamic a hale lot mair, the piana an’ harmonica instrumental wis fittin igither.
Susie then’ rejined Jim on ane o’ his ain sangs Money Making Money a protest song in a rather nice country style – perhaps jist a wee bitty oer muckle harmonica fir my likin’? A voicing o’ place in Perthshire is firmly established fan Jim sings his ain sang “Fiddle and Bow”, a lovely wee nummer tae the tune o’ Neil Gow’s Lament for the Death of His Second Wife. Fit lovely lyrics and wards in Scots. Beth then led Ghost Tour, an ode tae Glesca an’ tae an auld lover. She scrieved this whilst waalkin aroon Glesca, an’ mentions the Barras, Soothside an’ Kelvingrove. She cam across as an affa accomplished and expressive performer an’ her writin’ is affa honest, raw an’ genuine.
I wis hopin’ he’d include sam sangs thit the audience cid sing alang ti. I’d say the ainly muckle rouse he got wis fan he sang I’ Robert Burns sang, A Man’s a Man For All That. This wis preceeded by sam’ mair wild trumpet though. Yon encore cid hae been a braw opportunity fir the audience ti really sing-alang, bit his choice o’ The Banks o’ The Doun, didn’a get abdy riled up as muckle as an encore hid the potential o’ deein. It wis nice tae see aa three onstage at I’ same time though!
Am sure I’d hae enjoyed I’ show hale bitty mair if he hid performed the sangs thit he wis really kint for back in the day. I feel thit he could he involved I’ audience mair wi’ singalong wi’ the singalang belters that we aa’ loe an’ kain likeThe Wild Geese an’ Up The Norran Water, This wid hae ensured a chorus o’ voices singin’ richt back at him. Nanetheless, Jim’s voice hid lovely ornaments thit commanded attention fae I’ audience fae I’ outset. An assured an’ confident performance thit truly cam’s fae a maister o’ his trade. Maybe leave yon’ trumpet at hame an’ dee mair ballads next time!
Whit rerr! Guid tae finally hae some Scots review ben the site here. An fae sic a scholar! Cheers affae mich Iona, A’m luikin forret tae yer neist ane.