The tide is high
You wait ages for a Belle And Sebastian record and then three come along at once. Bookended by Stuart David's Up A Tree and the re-release of
Tigermilk, comes ISOBEL CAMPBELL’s solo album.
Words: Peter Ross
For a band famed for being withdrawn and elusive. Belle And Sebasnan have been near ubiquitous of late. First there was the instant classic TV moment when they snatched the Best British Newcomer Brit Award from beneath the expectant noses of Steps. then there was Up A Tree. an excellent. quirky album from bassist Stuart David in his side— project. Looper. In May. Belle And Sebastian will release a remastered version of their ‘Iost' debut Tige rm ilk. b ut for no w cellist/vocalist Isobel Campbell is poised to release a single and solo album under the name The Gentle Waves.
Apart from the Velvet Underground-like single. ‘Weathcrshow'. The Green Fields Of Forever/and is an album of pastoral pop songs. They are so simply structured and played that. for the most part. they sound like folksy nursery rhymes. With names like ‘Enchanted Place’. ‘Tree Lullaby’ and ‘Evensong’. they chime with a near naivety and strum with wonder. Campbell‘s songwriting is coming from a place a million miles away from the irony and eclecticism of late 90s commercial pop. not to mention the current trend for excessive studio experimentation.
‘The album isn‘t meant to be dippy hippy at all. although the title sounds like Men In Tights or something.’ laughs Campbell over a cappuccino in Glasgow’s Cafe Gandolfi. The youngest member of Belle And Sebastian at 22. she is extremely pleasant. interested and softly spoken. exuding a curious mixture of innocence and self-awareness.
‘Green Fields Of Foreverland is my idea of a place that goes on and on and on. and is full of peacefulness and restfulness.‘ she continues. ‘Really bad and terrible things happen. and a lot of life can be
very drab and morbid and upsetting. but even if
you’re aware of all that. you can always hope there‘s better things. That’s what the titles about and that‘s what I’m about as a person.‘
If you haven‘t seen Belle And Sebastian live. then your experience of Isobel Campbell is probably restricted to her song 'Is It Wicked Not To Care." on
38 THE LIST l8 Mar—l Apr 1999
'Green Fields Of Foreverland is my idea of a place that goes on and on and on, and is full of peacefulness and restfulness.’
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Not drowning but Waving: Isobel Campbell
their The Boy With The Aral) Strap album (she also
contributes a song on B&S‘s fourth LP. due for
release in July). Although various members of Belle And Sebastian play on Green Fields. this material is much softer and somehow timeless.
If you're looking for influences. then the dreamin melancholic 7()s folk of Nick Drake and Syd Barrett are fairly clear. Campbell's tastes run to the Velvets. Nico. Serge (iainsbourg. Leonard Cohen. Nick Cave. Orange Juice. The Smiths and Vic (Godard. She is hearing nothing of interest in the contemporary scene.
‘It seems that sortie people are very attached to Belle And Sebastian. Don‘t you think that‘s maybe becatise there is a lack of any other kind of decent music." she wonders. "There is so much bland drivel at the moment that it just seems as though there's almost no competition.’
In print. this looks like empty pop star boasting. but that honestly isn‘t how it comes across or how it is meant. Isobel Campbell would dearly love to discover a new band to get excited about. but. in the
meantime. she's content to create thrilling music of
her own. 'I‘here's a Belle And Sebastian lyric that springs to mind: Nobody writes them like they used to. so it tnight as well be me.‘
The Green Fields Of Foreverland is released on Jeepster, Mon 5 Apr. It is preceded by a limited edition single, 'Weathershow', Mon 22 Mar. The Gentle Waves play the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 10 Apr.
news mongered. tittle tattled
SCOTTISH COUNTRY ROCKERS The Felsons have been asked to support American superstars The Mavericks on their forthcoming British tour. The Edinburgh band bumped into The Mavericks in Glasgow in late 1998 and they got on so well that singer, Dean Owens, and guitarist, Calais Brown, visited Nashville in February and played live with their heroes. They also met Steve Earle and alt-country stars Wilco.
’It was really strange,’ says Owens. ’I ended up hanging out with all these people whose records I’ve been buying for years.’
Now The Mavericks have asked The Felsons to support them at massive arena gigs around Britain. They play Glasgow’s SECC on Sat 29 May. The Felsons new single, ’Joseph Black' is released Mon 29 Mar on 62 Records, and they play a headline gig of their own at Bellshill Cultural Centre, John Street, Bellshill. Call 01698 267 515.
ARAB STRAP, THE celebrated Falkirk miserabilists and friends of supermodel Helena Christensen, are to deliver a live album as their first release for new label, 60! Beat. The album, based around a recording of last September’s concert at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, will be released on Mon 3 May. It is likely to have ten tracks and will be a limited edition on vinyl and CD. The band are currently working on material
. for their third studio album, which is
pencilled in for a September release.
MOGWAI HAVE ACCUSED fellow Glaswegian indie kids Bis of nicking the title of their album! ’We were going to call our album Social Dancing, but that wee gypsy bastard Sci-Fi Steven stole the title,’ Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite told a List staff member over a can of Irn- Bru. Although it sounds as though it'll soon be de-tuned guitars at dawn outside the 13th Note, rest assured that the whole thing is a bit of a lark, the quote is taken entirely out of context and everyone
; remains friends.