James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra release a new album ‘The Wide, Wide River’ via Domino Records.
Containing singles ‘Struggle‘ and ‘There Is No Upside’ among its eight tracks, it’s the first long-player to come from the collaboration between the Fife-based singer-songwriter and the Swedish ensemble led by producer Karl-Jonas Winqvist.
The recordings were entirely improvised by the other musicians around Yorkston’s songs; the only song they heard in advance being ‘Ella Mary Leather’.
‘There Is No Upside’ was the first song the musicians recorded together, almost immediately after arriving at the studio in Sweden.
Of the free-spirited recording process, he adds: “I wanted the players to be themselves. It was important we captured these early attempts at the song, when the wildness and energy of exploration were still present.
“I simply asked the band to react to what I was singing,” he continues, “however I was so enthralled with Ullis (Ulrika Gyllenberg)’s fiddle playing, my one suggestion was she solo wildly throughout. She was a little shy at first, but I played her the Linton Kwesi Johnson track ‘Story’ and she got what I meant.
“I wrote ‘Story’ in frustration at a friend who’d chosen to take the big flit… leaving the rest of us somewhat bewildered. I can see how this may seem to be about Brexit. It’s not – but if the cap fits…”
The album was recorded and mixed in Sweden over the course of three days with a selection of musicians Winqvist had brought together, including Peter Morén (Peter, Bjorn & John), Cecilia Österholm (one of Sweden’s best-known nyckelharpa players), Emma Nordenstam (piano & cello) and Ulrika Gyllenberg (violin).
‘The Wide, Wide River’ is available on deluxe green vinyl (with 4-piece enamel badge set), green vinyl, standard vinyl, CD, digitally and additionally, as a 12” x 12” 100 piece jigsaw (with download code).
1. Ella Mary Leather
2. To Soothe Her Wee Bit Sorrows
3. Choices, Like Wild Rivers
5. There Is No Upside
6. A Droplet Forms
7. A Very Old-Fashioned Blues
8. We Test The Beams