AS THE year takes it final bows – mostly, you’d have to say, free from the tossing of bouquets, unless they’re dead black roses or somesuch – we at least have the joy of a soon-coming new album from Fife’s always warming James Yorkston, this time in tandem with The Second Hand Orchestra.
The album’s entitled The Wide, Wide River, and it’s due on January 22nd; and he’s teased us with the piano-vamping “Ella May Leather” to get us to drop by and soak up some gracious tunefulness straight outta East Neuk. We’ve got the video for you, below.
The titular Ella is here used as cipher – as anyone deeply steeped in British folk might call to mind, Ella Mary Leather was a Herefordshire-based folk song collector in the early 20th century, but James explains: “No, it’s not about Ella Mary Leather. I am just using her lyrical name as a mask, to protect the innocent.” Instead, it’s a look back with relief at a dark and chaotic friendship of James’s from many years ago: “I wish you well / But it’s best not to talk of the old ways,” he sings; “I bring your memory home.”
The video was put together in Stockholm by Sven Blume who says of the video’s stars: “Emma was already on her way when we found Karl-Jonas among some moving boxes.
“We went out in Stockholm’s December night. We stopped at the legendary Pub Diset. A place to find the past, the soul or Ella Mary Leather.”
The new album was recorded and mixed in Sweden over the course of three days, with The Second Hand Orchestra improvising around Yorkston’s songs. He didn’t want to direct anyone too much but encouraged an instinctive, free-spirited and joyful atmosphere.
“Ella May Leather” follows November’s first single drop, the string-laden and verdant “Struggle”.
The Wide, Wide River is available to pre-order now on deluxe green vinyl with four-piece enamel badge set, green vinyl, standard vinyl, CD, digitally and as a 12” x 12” 100-piece jigsaw with download code. That’ll be nice to do round the midwinter hearthside. You can fulfil your needs at Dom Mart and over at James’s Bandcamp page.
Follow James Yorkston at his website, on Facebook, at his lovely podcast, on Twitter, and on Instagram.