New Music: Rowan Ross

Years ago I was walking through Stirling town centre and was attracted by the sound of a young busker singing Smells Like Teen Spirit while accompanying himself on violin. Yes, you read that correctly, violin. His name as it now transpires was Rowan Ross.

There is a tradition in Scottish pop music of people taking a long time to get a record together. The Blue Nile developed a Fibonacci-like approach to this, as the gaps between successive albums multiplied exponentially. My old friend Edward O’Connor started his music career by forming a cool group called Punch in 1985 but only got round to releasing his debut album (under the banner The Trinity) 23 years later in 2008. The Feminine Sun Divine was most assuredly worth the wait but I could do with several more from Edward. We’re all waiting on a reformed Bay City Rollers album, probably produced by Kim Fowley, and knocking bubblegum pretenders worldwide for six, aren’t we? Okay, I took that too far, but you know what I mean.

I feel that Rowan Ross has been nursing some music for a long time and I’m very glad he is about to share. The first track from his forthcoming album Second Fiddle has just appeared with a lovely and simple film. There’s something of the McCartney here both in terms of the melody writing and in what Peter Maxwell Davies famously described as ‘generosity of spirit’. McCartney himself might describe the piece as ‘peopley’ and that’s what I love most about ‘Another Book’: the sense of inclusive, gentle reflection. Sometimes a song just needs to be a song rather than a sermon or a revolution or a question and the simplicity of this piece absolutely shines out. Verse Verse Chorus Verse Verse Chorus Chorus and thank you very much. It does veer worryingly close to j**z in the playout but redeems itself in terms of brevity. Thank you Rowan Ross.

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4 comments

  1. Great piece, I’ve long thought there is a treasure trove out there from artists who’ve given in and surrendered their contribution to us all in the face of the apparent insurmountable odds of the “business”. I hope that the new possibilities of releasing music on the various platforms available would encourage more to self release and get their music out to us all, however I fear many may be too “out of touch” now to appreciate their existence. I hope I’m wrong.

    A recent, if extreme, example of this was Bill Fay’s release last year, Although I didn’t love the whole album my life is so much richer for some of his songs that I may have never heard in particular the outstanding Jesus etc. Sometimes when you think of the artists out there and the songs they have which may never be heard …..

    Glad I found this blog, but you did take the BCR thing too far.

  2. Colin – I agree with what you say. In a way there is nothing to lose from just putting stuff ‘up there’ for all to see. If the industry has passed you by (and that’s not the case with Rowan of course) at least there is a way to get the work out into the world. What you can lose though is the powerful editing that a really great record company (major or indie) can bring. You’re very right about the Bill Fay record – wonderful music.

  3. Hi David. Just wanted to let you know that I think your blog is great, and I’ve nominated you for a VIB Award. 🙂 http://wp.me/p4Kuwe-tB

    • sorry it took me forever to reply and thanks for your kind words. unfortunately, as you will have noted, the thing that stops my blog from being a blog proper is that I don’t update after or nearly often enough. I will endeavour to change that! D

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