ONE OF Scotland’s most acclaimed bands promise “something for everyone” when they return to Shetland this weekend for two gigs.
The group first headed to the isles for the Folk Festival in 2012 as they enjoyed headline-billing status at the Clickimin Centre.
This time they bring with them their newly released third album ‘Tiny Rewards’, which Drowned In Sound calls their “strongest record to date”.
It sees Admiral Fallow shift their sound slightly, opting to indulge in contemporary hues but without completely eschewing their homely folk tones.
“It’s the most representative of the five of us,” flautist, pianist and backing vocalist Sarah Hayes tells Shetland News.
“Of the three records, we spent the longest time working on ‘Tiny Rewards’, which was a conscious decision, and we’re eight years into the life of the band, so it’s our maturest offering yet.
“There’s a lot in there in terms of layers and textures but hopefully that also means it’s the type of record where you hear something new each time you listen.”
So how would you describe the sound of ‘Tiny Rewards’? “The songs feature a blend of natural and electronic sounds, duet-like vocals, keyboard textures, woodwind flourishes, piano loops and rhythmic layers,” Hayes responds.
“We took a different approach to writing and recording this time around,” she adds. “Broadly speaking, our first two albums started life as near-fully-formed songs that Louis [Abbott] brought to the group, which we then created band arrangements from. We wrote the music of ‘Tiny Rewards’ first, all together, and then Louis added lyrics afterwards.
“We also took some time to go away from the city for a few days for a couple of concentrated writing sessions. The album was recorded in two residential studios, in Oxfordshire and mid Wales. Previously, we’d commuted to a studio morning and evening, so it was great to be more immersed in the recording process this time.”
The musician promises “something for everyone” at their two Ragged Wood-promoted Shetland gigs, with a set that will showcase the new tracks as well as honour songs from 2010 debut record ‘Boots Met My Face’ and 2012’s ‘Tree Bursts In Snow’.
It’s a back catalogue that features the likes of the foot-stomping ‘Squealing Pigs’, which once featured in an NBC commercial aired during the 2012 Super Bowl to a TV audience of over one hundred million in the US alone.
The band – whose line-up is completed by singer and guitarist Louis Abbott, clarinet player Kevin Brolly, drummer Phil Hague and bassist Joe Rattray – will also take part in a daytime workshop with pupils from the Mid Yell and Baltasound schools before their gig in the isle later that day.
The northerly concert and its workshop seem some distance away from Admiral Fallow’s recent history, which has seen them headline Glasgow’s iconic 1,900 capacity Barrowlands venue and hit festivals like T in the Park.
However, the band’s enveloping sound and engaging lyricism are sure to fit as succinctly in a small venue like Yell as it they do on a festival main stage.
So, three albums in, are Admiral Fallow in a good place right now?
“Yes!” Hayes proclaims. “We’re excited to get on the road again. We’re proud of the album we’ve just released.”