Starship Nicola is a collaborative effort involving Glasgow band Harry & The Hendersons and AJ Meadows of whom Blabber’n’Smoke knows little other than that he seems to come from Mississippi. Today sees the release of their EP, Got Me Singin’ The Blues, a bit of a misnomer as there’s nothing here that could be classified as blues in the accepted sense. The title actually comes from the refrain repeated towards the end of Ella, a song that, for sake of convenience, we’ll term as “freak folk”, that odd genre that gathered together some of the oddities from late 60’s and early 70’s folk rock and a sprinkling of psychedelic dust, Devendra Barnhart probably the best-known exponent. In any case it’s an excellent song, a gentle ripple of guitar and floating violin welcome a wispy vocal which in turn is supplanted by a deeper voice. The song weaves away with some fine harmonies joining in before the refrain eventually appears with disparate vocals adding a sense of tension. It’s a bit like David Crosby singing with The Incredible String Band if you can imagine such a thing. Add to that that it seems to be a celebration of Ella Fitzgerald’s work and the sense of discombobulation is complete.
Glasgow Summer is a much more straightforward affair, a sun kissed acoustic ramble with a skip in its step and a sting in its tail. There’s a hint of bossa nova here, some steely and then melting guitar breaks with a fine fiddle addition towards the end.
They open with a nod to old Americana with Wildwood Flower/Across Rivers, the first part of the song a delicate rendition of the old chestnut that’s been recorded by artists from The Carter Family and Johnny Cash to Dylan. The guitar playing here is excellent, capturing that old time Carter Family sound before the band up the tempo for the conclusion, a brisk folk rock version of a Marty Robbins type ballad including an acappella and handclapped devotional interlude.
Starship Nicola have a launch gig for the EP in Glasgow’s Nice’N’Sleazy today, support from The Olifant Collective, details here.