Shurely shome mishtake as Sean Connery might be thinking as he reads this review. Jazz on an Americana blog? Well, anyone familiar with Bill Wells‘ work will know that while he has roots in the jazz scene he is one of the most eclectic artists in Scotland today having worked or recorded with members of Teenage Fanclub, Isobel Campbell, Future Pilot AKA, Jad Fair, Duglas Stewart, Lol Coxhill and Kevin Ayers. His album with Aiden Moffat (Arab Strap), Everything’s Getting Older won the inaugural Scottish Album of The Year in 2012.
Wells’ latest project is the daringly named National Jazz Trio Of Scotland which, for starters, is a quartet featuring three vocalists and Wells himself on samples. the singers are Aby Vulliamy, Kate Sugden and Lorna Gilfedder while the samples played by Wells were originally recorded by Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub. Wells takes these and via computer has laid down a sparse and airy backdrop for the vocalists. It may be electronic music but he’s managed to retain a warmth, an organic feel which at times recalls the work of Brian Wilson and indeed the one cover song here is The Beach Boys’ With Me Tonight with the remainder of the “standards” written by Wells (with lyrical assistance on two songs).
The result is a very likeable album that will delight anyone who recalls Young Marble Giants while the summer friendly bossa nova feel which permeates several of the songs would seem to make it ideal for chilling on a sunny afternoon. Closer listening however reveals shadows midst the sunshine with heartache and hurt present in many of the lyrics with the closing song, Trying To Escape You, a particularly beguiling concoction of languid vocal harmonies and twinkling keyboard trills that is almost hypnotic leading one to imagine that the Shangri-Las have returned in a post modern musical landscape.
The album launch is this Saturday at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow’s Southside. Should be a great night.