The name gives it away really. Norrie McCulloch, couldn’t come from anywhere else but Scotland , Ayrshire we believe. The voice also has a hint of the auld nation about it without being over obvious in a Proclaimers fashion. However McCulloch is another ( and in this case exemplary) case of local artists diving into the pool of Americana music and coming back up with a handful of treasure featuring twangy guitars, banjos and pedal steel dredged from the deep. Armed thus McCulloch adorns his UK folk influences to deliver a very fine hybrid indeed.
Recorded with Angus Braid on electric and steel guitars, Marco Rea & Stuart Kidd from Glasgow’s The Wellgreen and multi instrumentalist Dave McGowan of Teenage Fanclub / Lightships McCulloch hits pay dirt immediately with the first cut, Call Me Home. The smooth undulating guitar that floats over gliding pedal steel and a slow steady beat immediately brings to mind Fairport Convention back before they caught the trad folk bug and Meet On The Ledge was their signature tune. With McCulloch’s weathered vocals on top it’s a winner and reason enough to give the album a listen. Fortunately the remainder of the album offers several other gems, some folk, some country, with Branded opening with a Richard Thompson like guitar flourish while Wrong heads into Nashville West territory with Clarence White guitar twanging. Helen is a ringer for some of Guy Clark’s early work, a fine dust stained Dobro fuelled ballad before Hardline’s heat haze floats into view almost knocking Call Me Home off of its perch as the best song here. It opens with a sublime pedal steel keening away before acoustic guitar stumbles into view allowing the song to amble along in its restrained glory. Praise indeed but listen to the song and deny that it could easily sit alongside the best of the Eagles or Poco back in the days.
Rex is a fine country skiffle which paves the way for another belter in the shape of the title song which ripples with shimmering guitar and pedal steel as McCulloch buries his memories of an old car in fine fashion before it’s back to 1969 for Too Far Gone. The addition of piano here adds a stately air and a whiff of Witchseason productions with the young John Martyn the template as opposed to Fairport Convention. Losing Hand is simply a wallow in a wonderful sound with the pedal steel paramount and the album ends with a fine Stray Gators laidback country vibe on Still Looking For You.
All in all Old Lovers Junkyard is an absurdly well assured album of excellent country and folk flavoured songs that deserve further hearing. Iain Anderson on Radio Scotland has picked up on it and so should you. You can catch Norrie McCulloch at next weekend’s Southern Fried festival in Perth where he’s playing at the (free) outdoor stage on Saturday afternoon. In the meantime you really should buy this album.