Fields of Green Song Writers Circle with Rachel Sermanni, Jo Mango, The Pictish Trail, RM Hubbert, Louis Abbott at Platform, 21/1/16

Easterhouse has a reputation as being a grim place, dogged by urban deprivation and lacking culture, however on Friday night within the stark modern walls of Platform five vibrant Scottish talents bathe this part of the city in the brilliant light of musical wonder.

“The Fields of Green” is a collaboration of folk musicians brought together by Jo Mango as part of Creative Carbon Scotland’s study of the carbon footprint of touring musicians and music festivals.

The result is a five track EP, Wrack Lines, released on the Olive Grove, in which Louis Abbott, Rachel Sermanni, RM Hubbert and The Pictish Trail have all written a track with Mango exploring the subject of touring, music and the environment.

The gig kicks off with Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott playing an acoustic version of ‘Building as Foreign’ from the bands recent Tiny Rewards album.

Beautifully picked out on guitar and sung in his usual rich Scottish tone it sets the packed and attentive audience up for what clearly is to be a special night.

After or before each track the artist explains the meaning of the song and a bit about how it was written.

Abbott discloses that the track paid homage to ‘Subbuteo’, from debut album Boots Met My Face, a song about childhood and returning home.

RM Hubbert keeps the intimate feeling going with a rendition of the darkly melancholy ‘Bolt’, from his Breaks and Bones album.

An incredibly gifted guitarist he strums and drums on his classically strung flamenco instrument producing a flawless depth, which encapsulates the room.

Next up is The Pictish Trail; my first time seeing him, this is a guy you want at your parties!

Hugely engaging with a hefty sprinkling of talent thrown in for good measure, he keeps the audience on their toes with quick witted one liners and stories of life on the island of Eigg.

None of this detracts from the quality of his song writing and he introduces himself with the delicate ‘Lighthouse’ in which he quietly picks and strums his way to a wonderful crescendo of an ending.

Jo Mango, who has been compeering the show, then delights us with a new song ‘Pale Fire’, which as she explains is the colour of the flames when you burn your poetry.

Backing her charmingly innocent voice with piano she reaches for quivering falsettos leaving the audience in a stunned pin dropping silence.

Last and certainly not least, the as usual barefooted, Rachel Sermanni delights all with ‘Ferryman’, from her 2015 release Tied To The Moon. Perpetually, enigmatic she beautifully strums a mandolin that is almost lost in the background of the haunting melody of her voice.

Mango then combines in turn with the other artists to perform the tracks from the Wrack Lines EP (£5 to buy with all profits to Creative Carbon Scotland).

Each song is brilliantly composed and in the tradition of folk music telling a story, be it about touring as a musician or damage to the environment.

With Abbott on guitar and Mango on piano ‘Loneliness and Rhythm’ uses off rhythm time signatures to convey the off kilter nature of touring.

Hubbert is accompanied Mango’s faultless vocal with slow broken guitar, which he stalls to dramatic effect before picking and drumming his way along on ‘Sustain’.

The Pictish Trail then has the room in raptures of laughter with ‘Believe Me, I Know’ with lyrics telling of hitching lifts in the back of a car to get to gigs before playing to paltry audiences and earning only enough for the petrol money home.

The serious moral being is it worth the damage to the environment to allow a few fans to hear your art?

Mango then sings ‘The Sky Exploded’, wondrous and tender with a soft repeating riff, the narrative is to do your own small things to be better every day despite the major catastrophes happening around us.

The highlight of the EP and the night follows, with Sermanni and Mango deliciously entwining their vocals with achingly gorgeous whimsy on ‘Bitter Fruit’; two exceptional Scottish talents combining to remind us of the rich vein of form modern Scottish folk can mine from.

After a short break the evening gallops on with the audience drinking in another round of individual songs from the artists; each one a highlight in its own right to dedicate more words to them would stretch this review to bursting point!

Words: Peter Dorrington

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