Scott McWatt - A Ceíst Amá (A Question of Time)
The singer-songwriter makes a valiant attempt to expand his horizons, with mostly mediocre results
Glasgow folk-pop musician Scott McWatt follows up his debut album Jekyll and Hyde with a valiant attempt to expand his songwriting horizons, pulling together a collection of songs which touch on politics, war, ageing, abortion and sectarianism with the somewhat manufactured construct that each track represents a different month of the year.
This contrived calendar of seasonal songs has already paid dividends, as the strident acoustic title track, which translates as ‘A Question of Time’, has been earmarked for rallying purposes at Yes Scotland events. Its rudimentary railing against big business, 'crude wars', celebrity and apathetic youth won’t give Billy Bragg or The Proclaimers any sleepless nights but might just galvanise fans of Amy MacDonald or Nina Nesbitt.
MacDonald’s ‘The Green And The Blue’ comes to mind as a parallel for ‘A’ Gorm/Glas ’Dath’ (translation: ‘The Blue and Green’). McWatt’s folk rock swing at sectarianism just about edges Amy for eloquence but the verses are overly wordy and McWatt has yet to master the Glasvegas method of cramming an excess of syllables into a line.
Elsewhere, there is a mediocre song for every occasion. Opening track ‘This Year’ is a brief new year’s resolution of a tune about fresh starts and all that, embellished with plaintive keening violin and complemented by closing number ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, a pensive stock-taking piano ballad which bypasses Christmas and makes straight for Hogmanay.
In between these bookends are a couple of heavy-handed efforts at evoking that summer feeling, which are more like bracing offensives than carefree romps, and personal tributes to his grandparents and great uncle which obviously mean a lot to their composer but fail to resonate emotionally.
McWatt is on better form when he drops the self-conscious striving for significance and genuinely has fun on ‘The Witches’, a breezy ill-met-by-moonlight ditty about a witchy encounter while walking home from a country pub.