Wednesday 2 August 2023

WATCH: Stornoway - 'It's Not Up To You' (feat. Yijia)

Can somebody explain to me how it is August already? I've been neglecting the blog lately - it's so hard to find time to write around work and other commitments, but I promise I'm trying to get things back to some sort of normality/a higher frequency of posts. Rest assured if I'm not writing as much, I'm still obsessing over new music in the background - and I'm very much in that place with Stornoway at the moment. If you know me or the blog, you probably know how much I love the band, and I'm all sorts of excited to share the latest track from their upcoming album Dig The Mountain! (due 8th September). It's Not Up To You is a Bj√∂rk cover, featuring Yijia, and I'm a little bit in love with it. 

The accompanying video, directed by the band's live violinist Susie Peters, sees the trio performing in Wytham Woods, just outside of Oxford, where Brian had his first conservation job (monitoring blue tit and great tit nest sites) after university. Watching them play in amongst the trees with the dappled light coming through the beech leaves... agh. The video is as beautiful as the track itself - a rare achievement.

Talking about the release, the band share: "we've always been hugely inspired by Bjork's fearless spirit and we particularly love this song from her 'Vespertine' album. We replaced electronics with acoustic instruments and vocal effects and changed the time signature, but it was once Jon and Oli got their hands on it and added piano, organ and bass that it started to soar."

You may have seen me gushing about this online already but... I saw Stornoway on Friday!!!! Friend of the blog, and my old boss, Oli got us into Cambridge Folk Festival to see the band headlining the second stage (competing with The Proclaimers, and so nearly giving us that I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) cover... you tease, Brian.) The band and their music mean so much to me - Oli and Tom gave me my first paid work in music and I've got so many lovely memories of seeing them perform. I can't quite believe they're really back.

I didn't manage to get to any of their festival slots last Summer, and the EartH gig earlier this year sold out far too fast for me (boo!) so my last show was the 2017 farewell show at Oxford's New Theatre (live album here) - I was working on the show so was there right from soundcheck through to the afterparty, it was an incredible day. Bittersweet, though, as I couldn't quite believe I wouldn't see them performing again. Fast forward six years and they're back, as brilliant as ever, and they've got new music to share. 

I'd say that I couldn't be happier, and that I couldn't love the band more if I tried... but then, well, this happened. Oli had organised for author, Johnny Flynn collaborator (!) and professor Rob Macfarlane (!!) to interview the band after the online premiere of their new video, live at the festival. I saw this was happening online and took my opportunity to try and meet Rob - he's one of my favourite authors to read and recommend, somebody whose opinion I trust deeply (if a book has a review from Rob on it, I'll probably buy it) and I adore his work with Johnny. Thankfully, Rob wasn't put off by my lingering outside of backstage to say hello, and was more than generous with his time - our conversation meandered through Stornoway, bookselling, writing, working with Johnny, my review of their show at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Johnny making me weep in The Motive and the Cue (so GOOD), wildlife and Rob's current projects. All of this happening under an oak tree, too. Poetic. 

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