Malcolm MacWatt releases a new EP, ‘Skail’.

Available to stream on Spotify or download via Bandcamp, the four tracks follows the London-based songwriter’s third studio album ‘Dial It Back‘, which came out in April.

Now based in south-east London – where he was the driving force behind country band The Glass Mountains – MacWatt wrote and recorded the new material at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, and “longing for the fresh air, clean water, open spaces, familiar faces and above all the safety of Morayshire,” where he grew up.

The EP takes its title from an old Scots word meaning to disperse, scatter and sail over water, MacWatt taking inspiration from the Highland Clearances and the links between Scotland and the lands across the Atlantic.

During the weeks of isolation MacWatt came across an article about the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia up the east coast of America to Maine, and which now includes the Scottish Highlands due to ancient geological links going back millions of years.

‘The Crofter and The Cherokee’ links the Highland Clearances with the Trail of Tears (Native American forced ‘relocations’), while ‘The Widow and The Cruel Sea’ is the story of a woman in a Highland village who loses her fisherman husband at sea and is desperate to start a new life in the American colonies.

And ‘Old World Rules and Empire Takes’ looks at British rule over the Eastern seaboard of America, ending with the lyric “Scottish blood in American clay” to acknowledge those trans-Atlantic ties.

MacWatt, who plays guitar, fiddle, resonator guitar, banjo and bodhran on the EP, said: “’Skail’ very much reflects me as an artist: I’m a mixed-race Scot with a deep appreciation for the traditional music of Scotland but who is heavily influenced by American folk and roots.

“The songs almost wrote themselves, in fact there’s times I felt voices long gone were whispering in my ear.”

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