Seeds of Life is an impressive and ambitious debut album. Recorded over two years in different locations in Scotland, it is rich and varied in content and style without losing cohesion.
Kirsty Potts has assembled a large cast of guest musicians including Alasdair Roberts and Geordie McIntyre. No chance of her being drowned out by these powerful personalities though; her strong, clear voice is always at the forefront of the songs.
While there’s a style here to suit every kind of folk fan, you can tell the songs have been chosen as Potts’ favourites, not as crowd-pleasers. It’s a long album, but nothing feels extraneous. The musicians and singers give it their all on every track.
Potts is a first-class, no-holds-barred singer. She opens playfully with Scotland’s Peace Train, a rollicking song that does a good job of convincing any listener to get on board. It’s hopeful and upbeat with a strong pacifist undercurrent - a common theme throughout the album.
Now More Than Ever also deserves a mention. Written by Geordie McIntyre to highlight 50 years of CND in Scotland in 2008, it boldly cries "the answer’s simple - ban all bombs". The tone is dark and fierce, with banjo, piano and backing vocals lending strength to the angry, passionate singing.
Potts is far from tentative in her approach to traditional songs, yet at the same time gives them the utmost respect. From her light and leisurely treatment of Binnorie to her sparse, moving version of College Boy, she always hits the right tone, experimenting with conventions while totally owning the tradition.
The longest song on the album, and one of its triumphs, is the bawdy Cuckoo’s Nest. Set to a catchy tune and making excellent use of the smallpipes, it rocks along at a lazy, suggestive pace, demanding to be taken seriously yet allowing itself a few laughs ("it’s a story everybody knows", Potts breaks off singing to point out at one stage).
Aside from the songs, there are three short pieces composed by Professor Wanda Diaz-Merced that serve as haunting, abstract interludes. It’s an unexpected touch, but somehow very fitting.
Accomplished, bold and infectiously catchy, Seeds of Life stands strong in any corner of the folk world. Watch Kirsty Potts closely; she’s a versatile and talented musician and singer who promises great things to come.Sol Loreto-Miller
Self-released on 28th of November 2015.
Featuring Claire White, Rise Kagona, Mattie Foulds, Anne Wood, Donald Lindsay, Frances Wilkins, Geordie McIntyre, Alasdair Roberts and Alison McMorland.
Tracks 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17 recorded, edited and mixed at Heriot Toun by Mattie Foulds 2014 and 2015.
Tracks 3, 5, 12, 16 recorded at ARC recording studio, Mintlaw, July 2014 with Jim Hunter. Additional recording, editing and mixing done at Heriot Toun by Mattie Foulds.
Tracks 2, 15 recorded at Diving Bell Lounge, Glasgow with Marcus Mackay October, 2014. Additional recording, editing and mixing done at Heriot Toun by Mattie Foulds.
1. Scotland’s Peace Train
3. The Shepherd’s Song
4. Cuckoo’s Nest
5. Will Your Anchor Hold?
6. Space Storm at Sea
7. Now More Than Ever
8. If I Had a Hammer
9. College Boy
10. Betsy Belle
11. A Wee Bird Cam Tae My Apron
12. The Seeds of Love
13. Bonny Annie
14. Space Percussion
15. Woe Is Me
16. Pulling Hard Against the Stream
17. Waterfall In Space