Video Premiere: Malcolm MacWatt “Out On the Western Plain” (feat. Pat McManus)

Photo credit: Gary Paul

Check out the latest video from Scotland’s Malcolm MacWatt.  ‘Out On the Western Plain’ was originally a Lead Belly song but it was the Rory Gallagher version that inspired MacWatt, whose re-imagining of the song emphasises the impact on indigenous culture.  The accompanying video makes effective use of historical photographs to evoke a powerful narrative.  The image of an advert offering Indian land for sale towards the end of the video is particularly important.  With flourishes of electric guitar from Irish guitarist Pat McManus, MacWatt creates a Western cinematic soundscape, slowly building around a timeless country melody and vocal performance.

MacWatt shares his thoughts about the song: “I always loved the Rory Gallagher version of the song but wanted to rework it to reflect my personal feelings about the Wild West: to highlight the important Scottish contribution to that story and to acknowledge the diminishment of indigenous culture.”

The single is taken from MacWatt’s forthcoming new album ‘Dark Harvest’, a 14-song collection due out on 26th January.  Singer-songwriter MacWatt is a talented multi-instrumentalist and, aside from the piano, he plays almost everything on the album.  He says: “I don’t read or write music.  I have very basic equipment with no recording software so, when I’m playing a fiddle part, I need to be aware of what the banjo might do. For me, it’s a very immediate and exciting way to make music.”

MacWAtt grew up amongst the hills of Scotland, steeped in Celtic, traditional folk.  For his own material, he blends these folk influences with more modern sounds or compelling contemporary issues reflected in the lyrics.  He says of his music and the collaborations on the album: “Folk music isn’t stuck in the past.  It’s constantly being written and rewritten, and while I throw a little light onto certain historical events, I’m also trying to create new stories and songs that reflect life today.  I was so invested in these songs that I considered every aspect to the point where I was writing and arranging songs for artists I hadn’t even approached yet.  Had Angeline Morrison not agreed to sing on‘Empire In Me’ I probably wouldn’t have recorded it. As I was putting the title track ‘Dark Harvest’ together I could hear Nathan Bell’s voice and guitar. For ‘Out On The Western Plain’ I wanted someone who could play the blues with all of Rory Gallagher’s fire and sensitivity and was blessed to work with Pat McManus.  I’m so grateful to every single artist who gave of themselves for this project.”

‘Dark Harvest’ is a collection of historical narratives that draw our attention to the darker side of humanity, reflecting times of violence and loss; it’s serious stuff, made lighter by the beautiful melodies and fine songcraft delivered by MacWatt.  Check it out.

About Andrew Frolish 1412 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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Mary Duggan