King Creosote: From Scotland With Love

king cKing Creosote
From Scotland With Love
(Domino Recording Co. Ltd.)

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Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote (Kenny Anderson) has been a prolific artist, which made him the perfect choice to create From Scotland With Love. The album is part personal project, part soundtrack. To commemorate the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, a film was commissioned to capture the spirit of the land. This documentary of archive footage has no commentary, just the music playing in the background. Director Virginia Heath sent Anderson footage and storyboards, and the two crafted works of art entangled in one another.

The result is a beautiful record without a bagpipe in sight. Instead, From Scotland With Love focuses on the spirit and the people of Scotland without getting overly sentimental. Descriptions are specific and heartfelt, and that sincerity keeps the concept from being cloying. When the opening track repeats, “You promised me a feeling/Something to believe in,” it seems as though Anderson is addressing his home country as much as another person. This personification comes up again in “Cargill,” a conflicted portrait of a city where Anderson concludes, “I’m the finest catch that you’ll land.”

Most surprising about From Scotland With Love is the diversity in style. “Largs” has a fun, baroque sound, “Leaf Piece” is a swoony ballad, and “Bluebell, Cockleshell, 123” even features a schoolgirl clapping game. The strongest theme that emerges in the midst of these different sounds is the importance of triumphing over struggle. “Miserable Strangers” declares that he is “always hoping that I might just get by,” a beautiful but tragic sentiment. The central conceit of “Pauper’s Dough” is the bread imagery, a simple food but a staple, essential to the poor. “You’ve got to rise above the gutter you are inside,” Anderson repeats, with many more joining him on vocals to transform this statement from a suggestion to an anthem. Though I’ve never been to Scotland, the land captured by King Creosote is promising and bewitching.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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