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Gavin Livingstone Gavin Livingstone
Album: Fire In The Snow
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 9
Website: http://www.gavinlivingstone.com

This is a wide ranging album, from the jangling folk rock of 'Lady Luck' that suggests a kind of new wave Jethro Tull to the beautiful acoustic sound of 'True Glaswegian' with Gavin sounding like Robin Williamson on this wonderful song of multi-cultural inclusion.

Livingstone, once described as the "Human League Of Folk", successfully on tracks like 'Dearest Nancy' marries electronics and a folk sensibility to make exciting music. 'The Grasscutter' is a fine piece of Folktronica with a rousing dance tune and fine lyrics twisted round bird song and found sounds in a glorious melange. On this track and the expansive 'This Desolate Future / The Wilderness' Gavin takes the spirit of The Imagined Village, Northern Flyway, Bird In The Belly and armed with modern sensibilities carries the tradition on like a Steeleye Span for the 21st Century.

Gavin plays everything on this album, for those who like to unpick what they can hear there is a list of instruments, but the music is layered with a sense of purpose and is never overblown. With a long career in music and bands stretching back to the 70s, although this is his debut solo album the experience shines through. Always brimming with ideas, the evocative instrumental 'Wilderness' is a haunting piece of mood music, part Psych Folk part Pink Floyd's 'Echoes'. 'The Uniform' splices an ancient music with a slight waft of 'Within You Without You' to something more urban and disquieting in a song about the pervasive western influence.

There is something exciting about Gavin's vocals against layers of electronics and acoustic instruments, more a cross between The Incredible String Band and The Petshop Boys than Phil Oakley. Alistair Hulett's 'Don't Sign Up For War' with Gavin's arrangement from Pitheid Productions Rent Strike Show, is as dark and somber as John Martyn's 'Don't You Go'. 'The Waverley Line', a contender for track of the album takes the cut up ambience of Public Service Broadcasting, with the voices of staff on the train line providing contextual textures and the Folktronica spirit of Scottish band Niteworks. Sprinkling over the top Gavin's fleet fingered acoustic guitar. Gavin's 70s and 80s band Tonight At Noon, used to cover Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall'. There is something of Gilmour's guitar in this and a career teaching Secondary level Maths informs the lyrics. A great slab of guitar and Rock drums with some dark imagery at the end of a surprising and engaging album.

This is atmospheric music as warming and charged as the travellers solitary protecting fire in a foreboding and dark wintery landscape.

Marc Higgins