“You didn’t really notice as the flurries turned to whiteout, suddenly you’re snowbound.” You feel as though you’re there, shivering with Steve, as his imposing voice captivates your imagination. “And the cold that seeps into your bones, slowly turns the marrow into stone,” gives me a resonating shudder every time I hear that line. Metaphorical or not, I think many of us are waiting longingly for a big thaw. Like Steve, we’re hoping that the big thaw is gonna get here soon.
The song is in two parts. Part I is a full-up progressive folk rock endeavor with Steve Mackereth on voice, guitar and haunting mandola, and Alex Smith on methodical piano and exuberant bass. Percussion and production is by the ever-creative Dragan Stojkovski.
For Part II, Alex hits a few melodic notes here and there on a small nylon-strung guitar, accompanied by a minimal string arrangement, all tightly coordinated and produced by Enter the Dragan.
I think it was Billy Connolly who famously said that Scotsmen only sing about Scotland when they’re far away from home. Well folk crooner Bert Keith has taken that a bit further and written a gusher of a Christmas song, all about life and the streets of Glasgow and, to the best of my knowledge, he has never been! Now Glaswegians might think, gonny no dae that, but I would urge them to give this a good listen first.
I have to say, when I hear him chant I do think about wintertime Glasgow, where rain-veneered streets reflect a leeching mix of soft amber and stark white streetlights, and there is a distant echo of a can being kicked inadvertently down some nearby street by a stranger hussling to catch the last bus home.
I believe Bert has played folk music in various pubs in Ireland, but I wouldn’t compare the stark streets of Belfast or the brimful byways of Dublin to the fortitude and grit of Glasgow. No, if I had to make a comparison to my Scottish hometown I would say it was more like Philadelphia, though with fewer Americans.
Whenever I think of George Square there are always leaden skies and Traffic Wardens.
Nevertheless, this provenance is no more a stretch than some short Australian playing William Wallace in a County Antrim field. On a side note, take a look at the foreboding size of William Wallace’s sword in his rock star namesake monument. Sorry, but no way Mel: Just not plausible.
Confidently reaching for the highs, his liberal legato and relentless retention of those last notes, Bert appears to have captured that authentic pub-enthused croonerism that your Caledonian dad and uncles would indulge in—usually after a few whiskies at any commemorative occasion; with an audience of at least one and devoid of musical accompaniment. Geez a song Big Yin.
The Glasgow Voyager by Two Worlds Apart. Lyrics and vocals by Bert Keith, music and guitars by Alex Smith, keys and percussion by Dragan Stojkovski.
A quote attributed to teen-popster-turned-naughty-girl Miley Cyrus is, “A true friend is someone who is always there during the ups and downs; I actually have a song called True Friend.” Well, she really is a damn good singer and we are all probably pleased to hear about her friend status, though to be fair this quote was from the younger, more innocent Miley and Cyrus. TWA songs can be a tad more sinister and complicated albeit significantly less popular. Sung by the keen folkster fixture Bert Keith, Twenty Nine Years is no exception on a shady scale of surrender and despair.
While the song generally has a melancholic minor musical progression, Keith’s singing vacillates between contemporary folk and neo progressive rock in some parts. When he is on top of the world he is vaguely reminiscent of that eons-old one-time hot band Marillion from rural Aylesbury in the UK. The instrumentation, seemingly by design, is threadbare—mainly one acoustic guitar, gracelessly strummed in a Cobainesque fashion, some oblivious guy having loads of fun with a cranked-up Rickenbacker bass, and the spotty kid next door on the drums. However, the overall sound is tight, even campy, and while the overused genre is life’s ups and downs, Twenty Nine Years is a fairly big down, but it’s not a downer.
Twenty Nine Years by Two Worlds Apart, with Alex Smith, Bert Keith, and Dragan Stojkovski.