Over the last few years the rare and rising talent of local musician William Douglas has gradually but firmly imprinted itself on the consciousness of the Edinburgh music scene. Accompanied by his motley crew The Wheel, he’s built up a loyal and growing fanbase warming to his unique take on 60’s inspired folk, pop and rock. With a second album visible on the near horizon, this prolific singer songwriter is clearly on the ascendant.
With a sprinkling of early Beatles catchy pop, a liberal spoonful of bluesy Rolling Stones, a flavour of the The Kinks and even a dash of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, the raw voiced floppy haired Douglas has fashioned it all into his own distinctive brand plying his trade the old fashioned way with regular gigs at The Jazz Bar, Ruby Tuesday and The Ark along with a rash of music festivals across Scotland.
A sign that he might be about to break through to wider audience seems signalled by the reception that greeted his recent support slot to the great folk trio LAU at The Queen’s Hall earlier this month. With a brace of new material and old favourites from his first album he quickly won over the sell out crowd with a mix of gentle ballads like The See Saw Scene, the racy cheek of The Whistling Postman (that had the crowd in stitches) and the rock-n-rolling anthemic finale of Higher which had the assembled throng clapping along to the beat. My personal favourite was the catchy toe tapping Come on Sunday, which sounds like a hit singalong single if ever I heard one.
Less than a fortnight on from that concert and a year since the release of his debut album Postcards, Douglas launches a second album entitled KLAUS, (partly inspired, I’m told, by the birth of his son) with another gig in Edinburgh. I managed to wrangle a brief sneak preview and I’m happy to say the gig will feature over a dozen new tracks in order as they appear on the album as a live performance.
This will include great new songs like the motown-Phil Spector-esque Yes is the Answer, the gentle atmosphere of When Winter Comes and the couple that stuck in my mind are the lyrical love song Tree from the Wood and Morning Girl which has a touch of a Swing showtune about it.
And speaking of Swing bands, guest musicians performing at the event will include local woodwind genius Dick Lee better known for his part in local jazz outfits Bag O’ Cats and Swing 2009. Also stumping up support, the gig will feature a plethora of guest musos including not one but three ex-members of Aberfeldy in the form of drummer Ian Stoddart, folk fiddle maestro Sarah McFadyen and vocalist Ruth Barrie who takes the lead on the gentle singalong tune Star.
I managed to get a few words from Barrie whilst she was between recordings on KLAUS. She seemed to be floating on air like an excited kid having just nailed ‘a great take’ and told me she was glad to be working on songs that she considers to be ‘really positive and beautiful’ rather than the more traditional probability of misery guts grunge. She admitted as well that some of it has ‘a real psychedelic vibe’ and quoted The Flaming Lips as a comparison.
Although most of the core members of William Douglas and the Wheel will be performing, this event and the new album takes place under the new guise of: House of LA (as in Do, Re, Me, La etc).
The House of LA presents KLAUS, a new album of songs by William Douglas. Saturday 19th December at the Jazz Bar Chambers Street. Doors 6.30pm, band onstage 7pm. The five pound entry fee includes a free copy of the new album.