Saturday, 10 January 2015


Martyn Bennett: Grit

The album I enjoyed most in 2014 was originally released ten years earlier. I'm surprised it's taken me so long to discover Grit.

There are a few elements which seem to be required in reviews of Grit. I want to avoid them and focus on the music, so look elsewhere for comparisons with other albums or comments on Martyn Bennett's life.

Layering Romany folk singers, storytelling, poetry, highland pipes, gaelic chanting, a Psalm and some Hindi over hard industrial beats Grit is something like a Ceilidh from the Western Islands infused with the spirit of a 21st century Glasgow night.

What I love most is that the record challenged me. The vocals are very stylised, so even now after nine months of listening to it I'm picking out new phrases ("no eastern kings came bearing gifts" sings a traveller as they describe the community's reception on the opening track Move).

The standout track is Blackbird, a song recently used to tremendous effect as the soundtrack to the short film The Ridge, the soaring strings being the perfect match to the epic Cuillin Hills depicted in the film.

The 2014 reissue of Grit rounds off with Mackay's Memoirs, a track commissioned for the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. It's a real tour de force.

It's not all straightforward listening, and a couple of tracks should come with a parental advisory warning, but all round it's tremendous.

Here's to finding more challenging music in 2015.

Posted by pab at 12:23 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!