Andrew Howie “Pale White Branches”

Independent, 2021

Andrew Howie brings out another Stirling album.

Scottish singer-songwriter, formerly of Calamateur, is back after a four-year break. ‘Pale White Branches’ is Howie’s 13th release (or 25th if you count his non-solo records), and it does not disappoint.

Howie’s released his first post-Calamateur album, ‘The Great Divide’, in 2015, followed by Victory (EP), two instrumental albums (‘Scars Are Like A Beacon’ and ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow’) in 2016, and most recently ‘Lonely Hummingbird’, an album of collaborations with American songwriters in 2017. Each release has moved his sound closer to the Americana traditions.

Following in the long stylistic tradition of fellows Scots Snow Patrol and Travis, Howie’s vocals are sweet, high and tender, but this music isn’t soft indie-rock; this is rootsy and carves out “Scotlandiana” as a genre to be taken seriously. A Scottish album with pedal steel finds a home under the Americana umbrella!

Howie plays acoustic and electric guitar in various styles, offering us songs that cover a wide selection of country, rock, and folk music. The opening track, ‘A Follower and a Fighter’, is a dirty, heavy ballad about a soldier back from war. From the lyrics and jangle, ‘Partick Station’ could be somewhere in the lower 50 states but is, in fact, a transport hub in Glasgow. Duet ‘Drip Feed’ contains a folktastic selection of stringed instruments, including Dobro and mandolin.

This tartan looks a lot like plaid.

7/10
7/10

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