Even though he is now sixty years of age, and has been a much-loved character on the Edinburgh music scene for many years now, Sandy Wright will be a new name to many people. He could well be Scotland's answer to the great American masters of music, such as Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, writing songs that offer both heartwarming beauty, and a gritty realism, but most importantly songs that are always rooted deeply and honestly in real life. In the same way that Cash or Kristofferson perform with a resolutely American character, Sandy has a sound imbued with a distinctly Scottish personality. Sandy's songs have a soul bruised by the battles of every day life, yet a heart that bursts with the warmth of pride and self-consciousness. This album, Sandy's debut solo recording, showcases a small selection of intimate recordings, taken from a likely plentiful bounty.
Whether his approach is bucolic or sentimental, Sandy has a knack of really hitting the right nerve, in terms of both lyric and delivery. The uplifting tenor of "My Shining Star" celebrates a friend or loved one who provides a timely respite from the depths of despair, whilst "In The Summertime" is an affectionate dream of summertime romance, with Sandy's lyrics calling all the senses to action. "53rd State Of America" finds Sandy wearily lamenting the overpowering effect of American values and culture on our native shores, and on "Whores And Bitches," he can be heard descending into an impassioned maelstrom of frustration and anger: "nobody scores like bitches and whores, spent all my riches on whores and bitches."
You will also find deliciously simple vignettes of ordinary life and ordinary people, that illuminate with a fondness that avoids cloying sentimentality. "This Old House" pays weary homage to some shambolic bricks and mortar, drawing comparisons with a similarly shambolic heart, whilst "Tin Badge" portrays resignation in the face of a more individual battle: "I'm hanging up my faded hat, and my worn out leather skin."
That Sandy's songwriting has been a well-kept secret closely coveted by many luminaries of the folk world, is well evidenced on the accompanying disc, containing interpretations of Sandy's songs from the likes of Chris Wood, Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader, and Kris Drever; some of these songs you may recognise as favourites from popular albums by the aforementioned artists. Taking the crown here is Michelle Burke's take on "Hey Mama," an unusual perspective of a death-row inmate, filled with the pain of regret and helplessness, and written with the utmost integrity and perception: this is a perfect example of just how Sandy instils his lyrics with the very lifeblood of humanity, no matter how challenging the subject.
Now the secret's out of the bag, there is of course no stopping the frenzied word of mouth that will doubtless heap belated praise on Sandy Wright. It seems inappropriate to suggest that a man of such experience, and now in his sixties, shows promise, but this collection of songs is certain to provide the folk world with a character of instant legend.
Visit Sandy on MySpace here!