26 September 2023


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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Lewis McLaughlin, Monohands 2022.

I spent the good part of a year living in Scotland in the mid-1980s and a further stint in the late 90s and I’m still amazed at the incredible musical diversity I experienced there.

I suppose that’s because the weather forces the Scots to spend a lot of time indoors and they turn to hobbies to pass the time although when I turned up it had stopped raining and everyone went outside and took their shirts off. The sun has that sort of effect on people who are usually deprived of it.

Many nights were spent in the pubs of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth etc. and village pubs in the Orkneys and Shetland and Skye isles, and right out to the Outer Hebrides listening to the most sublime fiddlers, pipers, flautists, guitarists, and a multitude of other musicians totally engrossed in their heritage. (I had a similar experience in Ireland, it must be the Celtic influence).

One of the musical forms I experienced there was close harmony unaccompanied singing.

Lewis McLaughlin is a young musician originally from Edinburgh but who now spends much of his time in Glasgow.

He comes from a musical family. His parents are folk musicians who toured as a duo and his brother Euan has played in numerous bands. The family still perform together “in countless different projects as musicians, engineers, and even cameramen.”

Lewis started as a fiddle player when he was five years old but by the time he was 14 he had progressed to the guitar and had started writing songs.

He completed his education at the City of Edinburgh Music School followed by a year at the internationally acclaimed Plockton Music School before branching out on a solo career.

Over the years (he’s still in his early 20s) he’s developed his own style which blends traditional instruments & sounds with a contemporary mix of indie pop/rock instrumentation and beats.

Summer is the title track from his latest album, and he’s delved back into unaccompanied close harmony singing for the song’s inspiration.

Using the advantages of multi-tracking he lays down multiple vocal tracks and as the song develops he introduces other instruments into the mix. Guitar, bass, fiddle, and his signature drum rhythms.

It’s a delightful song that is as fresh as today but also steeped in centuries of tradition. Check him out on YouTube I’m sure you’ll like what you hear. And admire his sister’s wonderful album cover artwork.

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