A Conversation With Emily Smith

Scottish folk singer Emily Smith arrived at The Met on the back of celebrating ten years of music making. Way back in 2002 she was named BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year; a platform on which she has built a career which has gone from strength to strength. No doubt there is going to be quite a demand for a singer who The Guardian has called "Scotland's most impressive young songwriter" and much anticipation to hear what Emily calls her 'new Scottish sound'.

We/FATEA's northern correspondent Mike Ainscoe, managed to grab a few words with her leading up to the gig.

Her latest album, 'Echoes' saw her returning to her love of traditional song, and it's an album which has already gained many plaudits:

"The reviews have been great so far. They are only one persons' opinion but it does feel like the majority of reviewers 'get' what we've tried to achieve with this album. The feedback we've received from fans who pre-ordered the album online has been fantastic too."

2013 also saw the release of Emily's 'Ten Years' album. The phrase 'time flies' was invented for moments like these. She explained about how trying to put her musical career on to record came relatively smoothly.

"The album came together surprisingly easy. I made a big list of the songs from all my previous recordings I thought should be included and gradually whittled it down. It was a trip down memory lane as we re-recorded some of my older songs and also included a live recording from 2004."

In true prog rock style, Emily does seem to seem to have a bit of a thing going on with albums containing 'themes' with a couple of her previous efforts being based round a central concept.

" 'Adoon Winding Nith' had a very strong theme in that it was all about recording songs by Robert Burns and I was particularly looking for songs he wrote with a connection to my home area of Dumfries & Galloway. I do enjoy having a theme to work around as it helps to focus and find connections between songs. However, Echoes is an album of songs that just gradually came to the surface one by one, songs I'd stored away at the back of my mind."

When it comes to working on her own material however, what tends to inspire you lyrically and musically she told us it's often a sense of place which provides her inspiration; " Landscapes, old buildings and stories are the things I love to write about. I've always been interested in history and times gone by so my own writing tends to come from thinking or looking back."

More recently Emily was involved with the famous 'Transatlantic Sessions project'. Talking about how she became involved she explained:

"Transatlantic Sessions is a fantastic project to be involved in and a real honour to be asked. I got the call initially back in 2009 to be part of the TV series and then got to do the UK live tour in 2013. I had a ball, many of those involved are my musical heroes and so to get to work with them was a fantastic opportunity. I have really fond memories of the live tour which really comes down to the lovely mix of people involved. It's through TS that I got to know Jerry Douglas who is one of the special guests on the new album. Aoife O'Donovan who also sings on Echoes has been a friend for many years but it was great to reconnect and sing with her on the TS tour too."

Bringing things up to date with the current band and the plans for the rest of the year, Emily said:

"On this tour I'm joined by Jamie McClennan on guitar, fiddle and backing vocals and Matheu Watson on guitar, viola and whistle. For the Edinburgh and London shows we have the bigger line up adding in Ross Hamilton on bass and Signy Jakobsdottir on percussion. After that I have a wee tour of Denmark coming up in the spring and beyond that we're headed back out to New Zealand at the start of 2015….hopefully lots more music making!"

Mike Ainscoe

Live At The Met


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