What does it sound like?:
Do you remember when, back in the day, you used to walk around school with your favourite obscure band LP proudly tucked under your arm – just to let people know ‘Hey this is me’? Well for the last 22 years The Pearlfishers have been one of my ‘obscure bands’.
Essentially ‘they’ are David Scott – an unassuming Scottish university lecturer by day but also a wonderful songwriter who has produced 8 albums since 1997 – so maybe not the most prolific but he’s as consistent as hell. The latest release has just emerged on the brilliant Marina label and I’m awaiting my pre-ordered copy so this review is more an overview of their music.
Im not sure if I own everything of any other artist or whether I would always buy without listening but then I know I’m getting. So if you want cutting edge, left-field, innovative and constantly evolving musical styles then look elsewhere. However if you want sophisticated pop songs that hark back to the classic writers of the 60’s and early 70’s then look no further. If Jimmy Webb or Burt Bacharach had been born in Falkirk maybe their songs would have sounded something like this. There are harmonies and strings and horns that would melt Brian Wilson’s heart; oblique and direct references to his musical heroes and the occasional melancholic Gallic twist. This is music that sounds like a dream you had about pop after listening to the Zombies, The Association and Glen Campbell on repeat.
I have no idea how Scott can afford to make an album like this but I think his reputation up in Scotland means that musicians offer their services for proverbial peanuts. It’s not all big production though and the often heart-breaking ballads might be simply framed by Scott’s acoustic guitar or piano.
So to the new album, which I’ve heard a couple of times on Spotty. According to a recent (rare) interview he says “I had this daydream about George Martin. He phoned up and said, ‘We’re putting Cilla Black into the studio just like the old days. Have you got any songs?’”
“So I’m thinking – what would you do if Cilla and George were alive and that record was getting done?”
For me the album has all of the right bits in all the the rights places including the obligatory instrumental – in short its another Pearlfishers album; the world continues to turn, the sun comes up and thank goodness for the simplicity and certainty of that.
What does it all *mean*?
Classic pop will always survive and the fact that music like this can be made in 2019 makes me think what a wonderful world.
Scotland has been producing some of my favourite bands and music over the last 30 years – Blue Nile, Danny Wilson, Aztec Camera, The Bathers – I could go on – and The Pearlfishers deserve to sit alongside all of those.
Goes well with…
A sunny day, when you just want to throw your hat in the air. There again, for some songs ,a quiet evening, grey skies and wistful memories.
Might suit people who like…
All the other artists mentioned above plus early Todd Rundgren and Laura Nyro
Many years ago I managed to get hold of David and we exchanged a few emails and I was trying to convince him to play south of the border (gigs are as rare as hen’s teeth and I don’t think he has ever played outside of Scotland). As I recall, I even offered to set-up a gig for him, which he politely declined (thankfully as I’ve no idea how I would have done that).