A journey through the Black Isle and Blue Heart of Malcolm MacWatt.
Skail is an old Scots word meaning to disperse, scatter and sail over water. It’s also the title of the latest release, and the third studio recording of the year from multi-instrumentalist, Malcolm MacWatt. SKAIL sees the prolific singer/songwriter plot a different course, away from the soulful retro rock of Dial It Back and April’s EP, Hearts and Horizons, and back to his own roots, weaving traditional Scottish yarn into the fabric of Americana.
SKAIL features three songs with the Appalachians, evictions, slavery and independence at their heart and is a contemporary meeting of Scottish and American traditional music with the talented MacWatt playing all instruments throughout.
MacWatt says, “SKAIL very much reflects me as an artist: I’m a mixed-race Scot with a deep appreciation for the traditional music of Scotland but who is heavily influenced by American folk and roots. The songs almost wrote themselves, in fact there’s times I felt voices long gone were whispering in my ear.”
Written and recorded at the height of the coronavirus lockdown from his home in south-east London, MacWatt found himself longing for the fresh air, clean water, open spaces, familiar faces and above all the safety of Morayshire where he grew up.
During the weeks of isolation he happened across an article about the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia up the east coast of America to Maine, which now includes the Scottish Highlands due to ancient geological links going back millions of years.
Coming from the Moray Firth with the northern mountains of the Black Isle an everyday skyline, the stories of the Highland Clearances were already well known to him, but in the context of a pandemic, together with the tragic narratives surrounding UK immigration, he felt compelled to explore the connections between Scottish emigration to the New World in the 18th Century and the roots of country and americana music. “Independence as an ideal, both national and personal, is a crucial element of SKAIL so the 4th of July is a fitting date for its release.” says MacWatt.
Founder of the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Rob Ellen said of his work, “Mal MacWatt truly is an extraordinary, powerful songwriter”
“Old Crow Medicine Show jamming with The Corries” is how Malcolm MacWatt himself describes SKAIL and who are we to disagree?
SKAIL – Malcolm MacWatt (Independent Release July 4, 2020)