Music Plus + is an initiative run by Scottish Music Centre and funded by Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative (YMI). The project centres around providing free expert mentoring across a range of creative and technical roles including: Cover creative and technical roles from: performance, live sound, singing, songwriting, recording, production, music business, DJ’ing, playing an instrument and more. This project is available to all young people age 14 to 19 years old, based in Scotland and who have an interest in music.
The album, released on the 1st of April, is a compilation of 15 tracks by the young artists involved including: Calum Mackenzie Jones, Lisa Kowalski, The 101, Age-Otori, Louis Page and many more. The Scottish Music Centre has in recent years made a huge impact on the rise of indie music in Scotland. The creative support from them and the funding by their frequent partner Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative (YMI), makes young people more comfortable in the fact that music is a route they could viably explore. I have previously had the pleasure of attending some events ran by the Scottish Music Centre and the calibre of acts has always been outstanding and this album is no exception.
Having gotten early access to the album I’ve had time to really enjoy the diverse range of offerings it brings and have compiled a few of my favourite artists and tracks from the album.
“Take me” by Sophie Penman is a deep, melodic track with distinct vocals carrying an interesting distortion which has become very popular in modern slow pop. Her voice also bares many of the hallmarks of a younger Ella Henderson. The song does bear some distinct qualities of an existing pop song (which I can’t for the life of me remember the name of) however it is still a strong and largely original work well worthy of a listen.
“Monster under my bed” by Calum Mckenzie Jones is a very distinctive track: carried by Calum’s Celtic lilt and slight rasp that track was accasionally seen falling into the traditional kind of Gaelic trills yet all the while remaining in a modern 21st century pop context. Similarities can be drawn in some ways between this track and some of those on Ed Sheeran’s last album. The strip back nature of the sound accompanied by guitar further contributed to the impact of the track.
“Free spirits” by Lisa Kowalski, similarly to the aforementioned track carries a strong Celtic flair to the vocals. The track is upbeat in a slightly modern country style: that kind of quick singing word play that singers with Celtic roots seem to do better than any other. The track also has a strong chorus and is definitely one of my favourites on this album- possibly even one of my favourite new tracks this year.
“Password” by Toni Woods emphasises the diversity of this album with its slight Hawaiian, Moana style vibe. Toni’s smooth luscious voice carries the lyrics in a comforting and poignant way and with her moving harmonic chorus only accentuating the track. If I had to compare them to another artist it would likely be Grace Vanderwall but Toni’s voice is so distinctive and fitting for her unique style that she is clearly an artist in her own right.
“The fiddler’s jig” by Ace Tonez is the last track I will mention in this rundown. Her classic fiddle intro making its way into EDM truly highlights the vast range of musical genres that can be experienced from this album. There are another 10 tracks on this album and although some are stronger than others they all help represent the diverse and growing scene that is Scottish Indie Music.
The album was released worldwide on all digital platforms / stores via EmuBands on Sunday 1 April 2018.