VIP VERY INTERESTING PERSONS
Cheerygroove Records ★★★★
One of the most intriguing and enjoyable albums to pass my way this year
The cover shot of 36-year-old Findlay Napier, a bespectacled, balding, bushy bearded Scotsman staring intently into space, grabs the attention from the off. Looking more like an Open University Professor than acclaimed folk artist!
A glance at the ten song track listing will raise curiosity levels even further, with titles such as Hedy Lamarr, The Man Who Sold New York, Eddie Banjo, An Idol In Decline and What A Shame About George. The CD is co-written and produced by Boo Hewerdine.
Findlay is a highly regarded and accomplished singer, songwriter and performer on the Scottish music scene. Also actor and a presenter on TV up there, and he has presented BBC Radio Scotland’s Celtic Zone.
He made his name touring and recording with multi-award winning trad’Scottish folk band Backofthe Moon. In his more recent projects;
Queen Anne’s Revenge and The Bar Room Mountaineers, his songwriting took centre stage. Finlay is well known for hosting Glasgow’s premier open mike night at Bar Bloc, as the host of Celtic Connections’ Late Night Sessions and for his Hazy Recollections concert series, which showcases the best of new roots music.
Findlay has won seven awardsfor his musical efforts, and picked up another five nominations along the way. The new record is ten songs about real characters that have led very interesting lives. It features performances from Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott, Gillian Frame, Roy Dodds, Hamish Napier and Danish multi instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren.
The project came together when Findlay began Creative Scotland’s Advanced Mentoring project with Boo Hewerdine. The first song they wrote together is the often covered, After The Last Bell Rings. They clicked as writers and decided to write and record a themed album.
Hedy Lamarr is a song about the iconic movie actress who amazingly, helped invent the technology that is used today in wi-fi. I never knew that until this album, but it is true. This was the second song Boo and Findlay wrote together, which inspired the tone that would follow to bring about VIP.
They write about Valentina, the first woman in space; the master conman who sold Brooklyn Bridge at least once a week for 30 years. About the ghost of a pugilist, the stunt pilot who discovered Angel Falls, and the Japanese soldier who fought the Second World War well into the 1970s.
The subject matter may sound a tad bizarre, but this is a collection of cracking songs, which all add up to a cracking album from an artist whose music deserves a far wider reach.
There’s humour, shock and surprise. His voice has a mesmerising and addictive quality to it and overall, it is far more contemporary than traditional. There’s some fabulous arrangements and very classy production. It’s brave, creative and a smashing listen.
For me, Mr Napier perhaps has a bit of Todd Snider and Loudon Wainwright III about him, but he is most probably a real one off. Simon Redley