Published on January 9th, 2015 | by Mike Ainscoe0
FINDLAY NAPIER – ‘VIP VERY IMPORTANT PERSONS’ ALBUM REVIEW
Anything which is released on Cheerygroove Records almost sets up an expectation just by the very name of the label. Important marketing ploy – take note!
Due for launch at the 2015 Celtic Connections event and following an October tour support with fellow Scot Eddi Reader, Findlay Napier has made the most of the ‘Reader connection’. His songwriting guru Boo Hewerdine was central in the crafting of this album, coming together with Napier in Creative Scotland’s Advanced Mentoring project. A worthy cause for developing the arts and creative industries in Scotland, lending support to the likes of Rachel Newton’s ‘The Changeling’ album, the partnership between Hewerdine and Napier, who bear a striking physical resemblance, blossomed, resulting in the themed album, co-written and produced by Hewerdine – in itself a hallmark of quality.
The theme for the material was to base the songs on ten real life characters who have led very interesting lives. Not well known figures – maybe Heddy Lamaar is one I’d recognise, but as a superstar actress and not for being the inventor of the process which led to Bluetooth and wi-fi. Aside from the quality of the writing and musical performance, the album and accompanying sleevenotes are a voyage of discovery. George C Parker, the well known con artist who famously sold a whole range of New York landmarks, and Hiroo Onoda are a couple of favourites (and yes – that’s the name of the Japanese soldier who continued to fight World War 2 well into the 1970’s before being finally relieved of his duties in the Philippines – you know the story but now his name!).
So that’s the idea, but how do the songs match up? Well, with Hewerdine again contributing musically leaving Findlay to bring life to the compositions, it’s a wealthy mix of high quality low key playing. From forlorn laments (‘What A Shame About George’) to fateful boxing matches (‘Sweet Science’) and the gently strummed knockabout rockabilly (knockabillly?) of ‘Eddie Banjo’, there’s an element of the joy of discovery about the whole album. Without setting the world alight with in your face approach, it’s a slow burner of a record which through the subject matter slowly seeps into the consciousness. Who says listening to a CD can’t be educational?