Last summer, when a friend invited me to a gig in a tiny venue in Glasgow, I had no idea it would end up with Linn signing one of the UK's most exciting rising acts, Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo.
That night there were about 25 people crammed into Brel, a little pub on Ashton Lane, in Glasgow's trendy West End. From the atmosphere alone it was apparent that something very special was happening. The music was original and unusual, a blend of classical, folk and rock; you couldn't take your eyes off the all-female band of classically-trained, multi-instrumentalists. To the fore was Emily's voice; haunting and captivating; full of yearning; distinct and all-consuming. The songs were her own creations, heavily influenced by her experiences growing up in Western Australia, surrounded by Gaelic-influenced folk music.
I hung around after the gig to buy a CD and introduced myself to Emily.
"You're from Linn? Wow! I'm so glad you came to see me! I love what you guys are doing with Studio Master. I've wanted to make contact with you for ages. What are you doing in Glasgow?"
That was the perfect start as far as I was concerned!
A month later Emily returned to Glasgow to spend the day with me at Linn. After the factory tour, I let her hear some of her music on a Klimax System. We started with the track 'Pause', from her most recent album Almanac, the song used as the theme tune to BBC crime thriller The Shadow Line. She got it right away: "That's incredible", she exclaimed! "I've never been able to make out the organ notes so clearly." Next, I played her the Studio Master of 'Stormy Weather', the opening track of Carol Kidd's latest album. Again, she was spot on with her assessment: "Hmmm... her voice sounds so clear. How do I get to sound like that?" We were in business!
That evening over dinner with Philip Hobbs and the Linn Records team, Emily outlined her creative vision, allowing us to share ideas in a free-flowing discussion about how we could produce recordings that would showcase Emily's music and the band in all their glory.
We decided to put the band together with legendary producer Calum Malcolm in the all-new Gorbals Sound studio, a world-class facility right here in Glasgow. Emily had been getting ready to record her next album, but we all agreed it made sense to give Emily and Calum the chance to get to know each other first by recording a couple of singles before jumping into her next album.
And so, last February we recorded four tracks that will be released this month, including two re-recordings. The first of those, 'Nostalgia', from the album Despite The Snow, is a beautiful and sad ballad about long-distance love and rejection, and is the current theme tune to the English-language version of the TV crime thriller Wallander. The new version will be used in series three, which aired on BBC this July. The second, a duet, is the murder ballad 'Fields of June', and is my favourite track from Emily's first album Photos. Fires. Fables. The unstoppable Frank Turner performs the male vocal, cementing a mutually-supportive stage relationship that began on tour together (including a sell-out Wembley Arena this April) and most recently included the Olympics opening ceremony which 25 million viewers watched.
The new album is due to be released in Spring 2013, and by then I hope you've become as excited about Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo as I am!