Lockdown sees Lochaber musician’s debut album finally come together

NO F03 Broon CD 02
The album's stunning cover artwork by Claire Innes. NO F03 Broon CD 02

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Whether it is Arisaig Boogie, The Devil Came Down to Glenuig, Metal Midges or his Americana-vibed homage to the Hogwarts Express, multi-instrumentalist, Steve Brown, has certainly covered all the musical bases on his debut album.

The tracks on the Arisaig resident’s Cosmic Ceilidh album were written over a six- year period, and inspired by friends, family and life in the Highlands – and recorded by Steve in his own Rivendell Studio in the Lochaber seashore village.

Steve told us: ‘It’s a game of three halves. Stylistically this is really two or three albums in one. After a lot of thought I decided to place all of these styles into the one sonic basket and hope the journey makes sense to some!

‘The mellow solo acoustic guitar tracks give some respite from the full band melees and the electric guitar tunes lend some contrast to the main mandolin wonderments.’

On this album, Steve plays mandolin, guitars, bass, piano, accordion and programmed drum loops.

Other musicians include John Whyte of Glenfinnan on trombone, Pete Harbidge of New Zealand on cornet and Eoin de Paor of Westmorland on fiddle, whistle, flute and bass.

By the wonders of modern production loops, three tracks also feature drums by Neil Peart, the recently deceased percussionist from Canadian band, Rush.

Steve is a massive Rush fan – he organises an annual Rush fan convention which has so far raised more than £50,000 for cancer charities – and astute listeners may spot familiar themes.

Originally from Stirling, he has lived in Arisaig for 20 years, absorbing many a session run by local folk legends, Eilidh Shaw and Ross Martin, in the Arisaig Bar.

Witnessing the mighty Shooglenifty live in Glenuig Hall was also a life-changer, he revealed, adding that the band’s original mandolin player, Iain MacLeod was hugely influential in inspiring Steve to pick up the beautiful instrument himself.

Ideally this album should be listened to in the running order presented. Some musical themes are hinted at then expanded later, plus the busier tracks are broken up with the more mellow solo acoustic pieces.

It has been noted that this album may contain too many differing styles, however, Steve says this became deliberate since it summed up his versatility and, dare it be said, saw him breaking the rules of genre.

‘Even though this album has been produced over a few years, it has really come together during lockdown,’ Steve continued.

‘Not only has lockdown given me the time to finish it, but the mixed styles represent the gamut of emotions experienced during this dry period of not being able to gig.’

Cosmic Ceilidh is available to buy direct from www.broon.net as well as from www.broon.bandcamp.com